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How to Prevent Food Allergies in Children

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when to introduce dairy egg and peanut allergy

I have some natural remedies that I keep on hand for seasonal allergies, but food allergies are in a different camp altogether. While seasonal allergies are annoying, food allergies can be downright deadly. And it seems like more and more families are being affected by them.

What Is a Food Allergy?

Food allergies occur when the body produces a specific immune response to a certain food. This immune response can be as mild as inflammation or as serious as anaphylactic shock.

Common food allergies include milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Milk, egg, and peanut make up 80 percent of food allergies.

Types of Food Allergies

Food allergies may be IgE, IgG, or non-IgE-mediated (checked with a blood test). When an allergy is IgE-mediated, IgE antibodies are released. These antibodies stimulate proinflammatory cytokines which cause the allergic reaction many consider to be “true” food allergies. This reaction can be life-threatening. This is why many children are prescribed an auto-injector (epiPen) that they carry around in case of food allergy reactions.

A more controversial theory is that IgG may also play a part in food allergies. An IgG-mediated reaction causes a delayed sensitivity to foods, according to some research including this 2007 study.

Other research, however, shows that the presence of IgG may actually signal a greater tolerance of a food later in life. One study published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology found an association between high levels of IgG4 antibodies to foods during infancy and tolerance to the same foods later in life.

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance or Sensitivity

Food intolerances and sensitivities don’t involve the immune system. They usually only cause digestive issues, like in the case of lactose (dairy) intolerance. Food intolerances are usually caused by things like:

  • enzymatic deficiencies
  • nutrient malabsorption
  • sensitivity to certain proteins or components of food such as gluten, FODMAPS (a kind of carbohydrate), or histamine

It can be difficult to tell if a food intolerance is also an allergy though. You may not notice mild inflammation or eczema (or recognize the connection). It’s difficult to know if a reaction is an intolerance or a non-IgE mediated food allergy. This is one reason that many people use the terms “allergy” and “intolerance” interchangeably.

You can have an allergy skin test performed to check for an immune response, but keep in mind that they aren’t always accurate. Many families don’t bother with a skin prick test for this reason. They treat their symptoms as if they could be either an allergy or an intolerance. Another test is a food challenge where a child is given small but increasing amounts of a food in a controlled setting. This test is much more accurate and can be done at home.

What Causes Food Allergies?

If you ask around, most people would agree that food allergies are increasing in prevalence. Most of us don’t have a grandparent with any food allergies, but many of us have children with them.

In our podcast interview, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, a board-certified allergist (and mom) explained:

We’re seeing a rise and it’s actually quite drastic. Currently, it’s estimated that about 8% to 10% of children in the United States have a food allergy. So if you break that down, that’s about 1 in 13 children. And if you think about school-aged children, that’s two children per classroom.

She also mentions that the rate of peanut allergy has almost tripled over the last few decades. Cow’s milk and egg are other common offenders.

Food Allergy Theories

Because of this increase in food allergies, you might be wondering what we’re doing differently now that we weren’t doing in the past. Some of the following theories address that question (and some don’t). Here are some of the most common theories on food allergies:

  • Food Allergen Avoidance – I don’t think I’ll ever be out of a day job because the science is always changing and evolving. The advice we’ve been getting for a long time is to avoid giving babies the most highly allergenic foods early in life, and delaying past age one or two. Now it’s thought that this avoidance is part of the problem.
  • Dual-Allergen Exposure Hypothesis – One theory that has been gaining traction lately is that exposure to food allergens through the skin may be partly to blame for food allergies. This 2012 study found that this may be true while early oral exposure can reduce the risk.
  • Nutrient Deficiency – There have been studies suggesting that food allergies may be a reaction to nutrient deficiency such as vitamin D and omega-3s (more on this below).
  • The Hygiene Hypothesis – Much research in the past several years has found that being too clean can have a negative effect on the body. The theory states that not being exposed to pathogens early can weaken or skew the immune system so food allergies are more likely. This is one reason I don’t use antibacterial products around the house (even though 6 kids = plenty of dirt and bacteria coming in the house).
  • Probiotics – Piggybacking on the hygiene theory, another theory is that lack of healthy gut bacteria plays a part too. For example, a 2009 study performed on infants found that decreased levels of certain probiotics in the first two months of life made infants at higher risk for food allergies later.
  • Gut Permeability – As Chris Kresser mentions in this blog post, food allergies can be caused by leaky gut syndrome. Normally the gut lining allows only small nutrients through (to be absorbed into the bloodstream) and blocks larger particles like proteins. When the gut is unhealthy (more permeable), these proteins can pass through and trigger an immune response.
  • Parasitic Worms – One of the most controversial theories is that food allergies may be an immune response to parasitic worms. This theory came about (and has grown since) when one researcher noticed that rats infected with parasitic worms produced large amounts of IgE antibodies, as explained in this article.

It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, none of these theories fully explains food allergies or why they are on the rise. We just don’t know why food allergies develop. This is one reason that treating and preventing them is so complex.

However, new research has given us a clue on how to prevent food allergies by changing the way we introduce new foods to babies.

Science-Based Ways to Reduce the Risk of Food Allergies

The old wisdom was to avoid giving babies the most highly allergenic foods until after their first birthday. It’s what I did for several of my babies, based on the going advice at the time.

But brace yourself… new research shows that the opposite is true! In fact:

The earlier a child is exposed to allergenic foods, the lower the risk of getting food allergies. 

Here’s a rundown of the research behind the change:

  • The LEAP study – This UK-based study was the first randomized trial to study preventing food allergies in a large group of high-risk infants. Results reported in 2015 found that peanut allergies were less likely if the child ate peanut protein between 4 and 11 months of age.
  • The EAT studyAnother study found that introducing allergens between 3 and 6 months significantly reduced allergies later. However, study participants could only achieve 50% compliance with protocol, indicating that early and sustained introduction was difficult to achieve at such a young age. The study also stressed that the recommendation was still to exclusively breastfeed during the first six months of life.
  • The PETIT studyIn this study, 4 to 5-month-old infants with eczema who were given egg protein were less likely to develop egg allergies later. But it’s important to note that 10 percent of the egg group were admitted to the hospital (presumably from their eczema, but it’s unclear), compared to zero in the control group.

It’s exciting to have some hard data uncovering the causes of food allergies and what to do about it, but how parents can act on these (rather complex) findings is less clear.

So, what’s a parent to do?

A Holistic Approach to Preventing Food Allergies

This new information doesn’t give us all the answers but it is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing the trend of rising food allergies in kids.

What the studies do tell us with some confidence is that in most cases there is no apparent benefit to delaying in the introduction of allergenic foods, and in fact they should be given to babies:

  1. Early
  2. Frequently
  3. Consistently

When Is “Early”?

There is certainly still debate about what this means for the right age to introduce these foods.

I don’t recommend feeding breastfed infants solid or pureed food before at least 6 months of age (and the World Health Organization agrees) for a few reasons.

  • Babies don’t lose the tongue thrust reflex until 4-6 months of age. This reflex means if food enters their mouth they automatically push it out with their tongue. This is a protective mechanism.
  • Babies who can’t sit up on their own should not have solid food in their mouths (even purees — it’s a choking hazard). Many babies can’t sit up on their own until at least 6 months of age.
  • Solid foods displace breastmilk. Meaning baby misses out on some of the nutritional and immune-building benefits of breastmilk.

The new research is compelling, though.

What I Would Do

Of course, as with so many aspects of parenthood, each parent and family should do their own research on this topic and determine what age to start allergen exposure.

If I were introducing solid food, I would wait until 6 months of age but then feed allergenic foods right away (along with nutrient-dense foods like bone broth, liver, etc.). This type of schedule also lines up with the window of allergen exposure in most of the studies and gives baby a longer time of exclusive breastfeeding.

For the first 6 months of life, all baby needs is breastmilk or formula. If baby is formula fed, it is nutritionally all she needs (though you can add probiotics or enzymes or make your own formula to mimic breast milk as much as possible).

Ready, Set, Food!

It’s worth mentioning that there is one company bridging the gap between this research and making it easier on parents. Two dads concerned about this issue teamed up with an incredible panel of experts and allergists to develop a simple powdered supplement that can be added to baby’s bottle (either expressed breast milk or formula).

It’s called Ready, Set, Food! and it is organic, non-GMO, and contains small amounts of egg, dairy, and peanut (the 3 top allergens).

(Personally, unless I had to bottle feed I wouldn’t express breast milk in order to do this, as there is some nutrient loss. I would wait until the introduction of solid food and add it at that time, but do your own research about what’s right for your family.)

What’s nice about Ready, Set, Food! is that it makes it very easy on parents (always a fan of that!) to start with very small amounts of allergenic foods without the hazard of intestinal upset or choking by feeding solid food too early. It also makes it easy to be consistent and frequent with exposure in what is often a busy and sleep-deprived stage of life.

Other Things to Try

Early exposure to allergens in carefully calculated doses are one way to help reduce the chance of allergies. There are some other lifestyle factors that can help to optimize as well. While not all of these are definitely going to help, they are generally good for your health anyway, so they can’t hurt.

  • Gut healing – Because most of the immune system resides in the gut, it makes sense to make it as healthy as possible. Babies inherit mom’s gut health, so starting with your own gut health is a good first step. Breastfeeding, if possible, is a good way to get baby off to a good gut-health start.
  • Eat allergenic foods while pregnant and breastfeeding –  It would make sense that this could be helpful since we know that babies get their first taste of foods from amniotic fluid and breastmilk. At this point, researchers aren’t convinced that a mom’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding affects the baby’s allergy development. However, one study in mice shows that this prenatal and breastmilk exposure can reduce food allergies.
  • Immune support – Allergies are sometimes thought of as a misfiring or overreaction of the immune system. Making sure the immune system is properly developed may help. Since we know baby inherits some of his immune system from mom, it’s not a bad idea to make sure your immune system is at its best. The tips in this post can help support your immune system. However, there is no research to support this idea.
  • Vitamin D – Studies suggest that infants with low vitamin D levels are at higher risk for food allergies. Boosting your own vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding can help. Vitamin D drops after birth are also a good choice but always talk to a doctor before giving a baby any supplement.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – In one study, women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had a 30 percent lower risk of their child developing egg allergies. Again, check with a doctor and make sure to choose a high quality omega-3.

As mentioned, there isn’t much evidence that the above advice will help avoid food allergies. But at the same time, most of this advice has no drawbacks and is good general health advice, so it can’t hurt to try.

How to Introduce Allergens Early

Always consult your child’s healthcare provider before making any decisions to introduce food. If you’re planning on introducing allergenic foods at 6 months of age here are some tips for doing it:

  • Start with milk, egg, and peanut as these are the most likely allergens.
  • Offer very small amounts of one food at a time. Then and work your way up to larger amounts.
  • Offer them often. Once is not enough. Baby needs time to “learn” about these foods.
  • Consider using Ready, Set, Food!’s system which gives baby a very small amount of the highest allergenic foods (one at a time). It makes giving baby these foods (in small amounts and on a regular basis) easy for you.

While you begin feeding baby these foods, always be aware of any allergic reactions that pop up.

Allergy Signs to Look For

Even though you’ll be feeding very small amounts of these foods, baby may still have a reaction. Here are some allergy symptoms to look for:

  • Digestive issues like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Hives, welts, or other skin rashes
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Severe reactions require medical care. If you feel your child is having a severe allergic reaction, call your child’s doctor or 911.

Food Allergies in Children: Bottom Line

Food allergies, especially in children, are on the rise. We don’t know yet what is causing it. But the most recent research shows us that early introduction to allergenic foods is the best way to prevent food allergies.

Have you tried feeding allergenic foods early? What was your experience?

Sources

  1. Lack, G. (2012, May). Update on risk factors for food allergy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22464642
  2. Hygiene factors associated with childhood food allergy and asthma. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5080537/
  3. Zimmer, C. (2016, May 22). A controversial theory may explain the real reason humans have allergies. Retrieved from https://qz.com/689806/a-controversial-theory-may-explain-the-real-reason-humans-have-allergies/
  4. LEAP – A clinical trial investigating how to best prevent Peanut Allergy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.leapstudy.co.uk/
  5. Two-step egg introduction for prevention of egg allergy in high-risk infants with eczema (PETIT): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31418-0/abstract
  6. Infant and young child feeding. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding
  7. Fliesler, N. (2017, November 20). Breast milk protects against food allergy: Strong evidence from mice – Vector blog. Retrieved from https://vector.childrenshospital.org/2017/11/breast-milk-protects-food-allergy-evidence/
  8. Allen, K. J., Koplin, J. J., Ponsonby, A. L., Gurrin, L. C., Wake, M., Vuillermin, P., . . . Dharmage, S. C. (2013, April). Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with challenge-proven food allergy in infants. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23453797
  9. Fish oil supplements in pregnancy ‘may reduce allergies’. (2018, March 01). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43228242
  10. Sjögren, Y. M., Jenmalm, M. C., Böttcher, M. F., Björkstén, B., & Sverremark?Ekström, E. (2009, February 09). Altered early infant gut microbiota in children developing allergy up to 5 years of age. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2222.2008.03156.x
  11. Chris Kresser. (2016, December 09). Got Allergies? Your Microbes Could Be Responsible. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/got-allergies-your-microbes-could-be-responsible/
  12. Yang, C. M., & Li, Y. Q. (2007, August). [The therapeutic effects of eliminating allergic foods according to food-specific IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17967233
  13. Tomici?, S., Norrman, G., Fälth-Magnusson, K., Jenmalm, M. C., Devenney, I., & Böttcher, M. F. (2009, February). High levels of IgG4 antibodies to foods during infancy are associated with tolerance to corresponding foods later in life. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18346097

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Bill Gates: Third Shot May Be Needed to Combat Coronavirus Variants

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With more than 40 million Americans having received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a third dose may be needed to prevent the spread of new variants of the disease, Bill Gates told CBS News Tuesday.

Gates’ comments come amid growing concern that the current vaccines are not effective against the more contagious Brazilian and South African variants.

Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their vaccines are 95% and 99% effective, respectively, against the initial strain of COVID. However, some scientists have questioned those statements. Additionally, the World Health Organization and vaccine companies have conceded that the vaccines do not prevent people from being infected with COVID or from transmitting it, but are only effective at reducing symptoms.

Gates told CBS Evening News:

“The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that’s just the same, or do we need a modified vaccine?”

U.S. vaccine companies are looking at making modifications, which Gates refers to as “tuning.”

People who have had two shots may need to get a third shot and people who have not yet been vaccinated would need the modified vaccine, explained Gates. When asked whether the coronavirus vaccine would be similar to the flu vaccine, which requires yearly boosters, Gates couldn’t rule that out. Until the virus is eradicated from all humans, Gates said, additional shots may be needed in the future.

AstraZeneca in particular has a challenge with the variant,” Gates explained. “And the other two, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are slightly less effective, but still effective enough that we absolutely should get them out as fast as we can while we study this idea of tuning the vaccine.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the studies being conducted in Brazil and South Africa, CBS News said. The foundation has also invested in the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the Novavax vaccines, which are being tested against new variants. Once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative or GAVI, founded by Gates, will distribute it globally.

“Gates continues to move the goalposts,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel of Children’s Health Defense. “Meanwhile the strategies he and others have promoted are obliterating the global economy, demolishing the middle class, making the rich richer and censoring vaccine safety advocates, like me.”

Kennedy said that the exclusive focus on vaccines has prevented the kind of progress required to actually address and recover from the pandemic:

“From the pandemic’s outset, clear-headed people familiar with the challenges inherent in the vaccine model have understood that the path out of crisis would require multiple steps. Those steps would need to include the development and/or identification of therapeutic drugs, the sharing of information among doctors to hone improved treatment models that reduce infection mortality rates below those for flu, and the kind of broad-spectrum long-term herd immunity that protects against mutant strains and that only derives from natural infection.”

Instead, Gates and vaccine makers are proposing a lifetime of boosters, supporting insufficient testing to determine safety and failing to address the inadequate monitoring of vaccine injuries, Kennedy said.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

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Young nurse suffers from hemorrhage and brain swelling after second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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(Natural News) A 28-year-old healthcare worker from the Swedish American Hospital, in Beloit, Wisconsin was recently admitted to the ICU just five days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA vaccine. The previously healthy young woman was pronounced brain dead after cerebral angiography confirmed a severe hemorrhage stroke in her brain stem.

Her family members confirmed that she was “breaking out in rashes” after the vaccine. She also suffered from sudden migraine headaches, and got “sick” after taking the second dose of the vaccine. At the very end, she lost the ability to speak and went unconscious. The migraines, nausea, and loss of speech were all symptoms of a brain bleed and brain swelling, something her family did not understand at the time, and something nobody would expect after vaccination.

While on life support, neurologists used angiography to image the damage inside the brain. They found a subarachnoid hemorrhage, whereas a bulging blood vessel burst in the brain, bleeding out in the space between the brain and the tissue covering the brain. The ensuing swelling cut off oxygen to the brain and caused brain death. On February 10, 2021, Sarah reportedly had “no brain activity.” Some of the woman’s organs are now being procured, so they can be donated to other people around the world.

Doctors warn FDA about COVID vaccines causing autoimmune attacks in the heart and brain

Experimental COVID-19 vaccines may cause inflammation along the cardiovascular system, leading to heart attack and/or stroke. This serious issue was brought forth to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, M.D., Ph.D. and further confirmed by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. The two doctors warned that a recently-infected patient who is subject to COVID-19 vaccination is likely to suffer from autoimmune attacks along the ACE-2 receptors present in the heart, and in the microvasculature of the brain, liver and kidney. If viral antigens are present in the tissues of recipients at the time of vaccination, the vaccine-augmented immune response will turn the immune system against those tissues, causing inflammation that can lead to blood clot formation.

This severe adverse event is likely cause of death for the elderly who are vaccinated despite recently being infected. There is no adequate screening process to ensure that this autoimmune attack doesn’t occur. The elderly are not the only people vulnerable to vaccine injury and death. Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine could be the main cause behind the sudden death of Sarah Sickles, a 28-year-old nurse from Wisconsin. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has captured five permanent disabilities in Wisconsin, 58 ER visits, and eleven deaths in just one month. This is the first case in Wisconsin of someone under 44 years of age suffering from severe COVID-19 vaccine side effects and death. There are now more than 1,170 deaths recorded in the U.S. related to the experimental mRNA vaccines, a reality that the FDA and CDC continue to ignore.

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Powering hypersonic weapons: US armed forces eyeing dangerous 5G tech

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(Natural News) Much of the conversation surrounding the benefits of 5G is geared toward the consumer side of the technology. People will be able to download videos at lightning speed and will be more connected than ever, proponents claim, although there are serious questions regarding its safety. However, some of the most important 5G applications are not civil at all – the technology will be used extensively in the military domain.

Some of its military uses are outlined in the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology report, which was published by the Defense Science Board. This federal committee gives scientific advice to the Pentagon. Their report states: “The emergence of 5G technology, now commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to take advantage, at minimal cost, of the benefits of this system for its own operational requirements.”

The 5G commercial network that is being built by private companies right now can be used by the American military for a much lower cost than if the network had been set up exclusively for military purposes.

Military experts expect the 5G system to play a pivotal role in using hypersonic weapons. For example, it can be used for new missiles that bear nuclear warheads and travel at speeds superior to Mach 5. These hypersonic weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound and move a mile per second, will be flying at high altitudes on unpredictable flight paths, making them as hard to guide as they will be to intercept.

Huge quantities of data need to be gathered and transmitted in a very short period in order to maneuver these warheads on variable trajectories and allow them to change direction in milliseconds to avoid interceptor missiles.

5G for defense

This type of technology is also needed to activate defenses should we be attacked by a weapon of this type; 5G automatic systems could theoretically handle decisions that humans won’t have enough time to make on their own. Military bases and even cities will have less than a minute to react to incoming hypersonic missiles, and 5G will make it easier to process real time data on trajectories for decision-making.

There are also important uses of this technology in combat. 5G’s ability to simultaneously link millions of transceivers will undoubtedly facilitate communication among military personnel and allow them to transmit photos, maps and other vital information about operations in progress at dizzying speeds to improve situational awareness.

The military can also take advantage of the high-frequency and short-wavelength millimeter wave spectrum used by 5G. Its short range means that it is well suited for smart military bases and command posts because the signal will not propagate too far, making it less likely that enemies will be able to detect it.

When it comes to special forces and secret services, the benefits of 5G are numerous. Its speed and connectivity will allow espionage systems to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. It will also make drones more dangerous by allowing them to identify and target people using facial recognition and other methods.

Like all technology, 5G will also make us highly vulnerable. The network itself could become an attractive target for cyber-attacks and other acts of war being carried out with cutting-edge weaponry. In fact, the 5G network is already viewed as critical infrastructure and is being carefully protected before it is even fully built.

While the focus on 5G’s dangers to human health and the environment is absolutely warranted, it is also important not to lose sight of the military implications of 5G. After all, it is not just the United States that is developing this technology for military purposes; our enemies, like China and other countries, are also making great strides in this realm.

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