Mead Johnson wants more parents taking ‘allergic action’

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

The natural history of food allergies has changed during the last two decades in the severity of clinical manifestations. Pic: Getty/AndreyPopov
The natural history of food allergies has changed during the last two decades in the severity of clinical manifestations. Pic: Getty/AndreyPopov

Related tags Cow’s milk Allergen Allergies Allergy Lactose intolerance

Food allergies are on the rise in children, creating allergen-free public areas, food products and school policies to manage those that are life-threatening. Cow's milk allergy is common in babies and can potentially lead to other intolerances without awareness and intervention.

Mead Johnson Nutrition is calling attention to the ‘Allergic March,’ the notion that common infant allergies like eczema and cow's milk allergy (CMA) tend to indicate other allergies like asthma later in life. The ‘Allergic Action’ campaign will educate parents and healthcare professionals how they can take action and intervene to support infants' life-long health.

The company cited a 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics that childhood food allergies cost US families $20.5bn every year, and that food-related allergies in infants and children are on the rise.

Mead Johnson recently commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey that revealed 40% of moms were aware that CMA is indicative of more allergies later in life. And 55% of moms knew that there are ways to reduce the likelihood of future allergies in infants.

Jonathan Malka, MD, FAAAI, director of allergy and immunology at Pediatric Associates, said, "Infants who exhibit allergies like CMA are up to four times more likely to exhibit other allergies, such as asthma and eczema. The earlier you detect CMA in infants, the better you can protect them from developing more allergies in the future."

Minhthy Nguyen, VP of innovation and scientific affairs at Mead Johnson, said, "The management of current allergy symptoms and the Allergic March starts with nutritional intervention.”

In the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology​, researchers published a study that found 90% of infants using extensively hydrolyzed formula (EHF) with probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus​ GG (LGG) experienced less crying from CMA within 48 hours.

And during a three-year follow up, infants using the formula experienced a reduction in nasal and eye allergies, asthma, allergic hives and eczema. The authors noted that the natural history of food allergies has changed during the last two decades, “with an increased prevalence, severity of clinical manifestations, and risk of persistence into later ages.”

The authors of the study concluded that “early-life food sensitization should be used as a marker for developing subsequent allergic diseases that might benefit from preventive strategies.”

Nguyen said, "The clinical evidence proving the effectiveness of EHF with LGG to reduce infants' future allergies is an astounding achievement in the scientific community. Providing an infant with EHF and LGG can significantly improve their health outcomes today, and down the road.”

On its website, Mead Johnson advises parents to understand the difference between CMA, a condition affecting the immune system most common in babies and toddlers, and lactose intolerance, a digestive problem affecting people of all ages.

They have similar symptoms, but most babies with CMA will grow out of it as they grow older. It also causes typical allergy reactions like itching, wheezing, runny noses and coughs.

Mead Johnson’s campaign to raise awareness of the Allergic March is partnering with groups like Scientific American, Food Allergy Research and Education, Feeding Matters and Nutrition4Kids.

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