Of Babies, Peanuts and Allergy Moms

By now, you’ve no doubt heard of the five year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, where peanuts introduced to the diet of at-risk babies 4-11 months old lowered the incidence of developing peanut allergy by age 5 by 80%. The results are incredible and will no doubt change the conversation between allergists, pediatricians and parents for years to come.

More than any other food allergy news item recently, this one has drawn the most emotional feedback from our readers. There are many reasons, not the least of which is that the story is receiving coverage by traditional news outlets everywhere from ABC News to NPR.

That means – as a food allergy mom – you’re probably being inundated with all kinds of advice from people who have absolutely no idea what it means to have a child with food allergies. As parents of a 13 year old daughter with a peanut allergy, we’re hearing plenty of “See… if you had just given her peanuts at a young age she wouldn’t have had this problem.” Our response? Bull$%it!

Allergists have been all over the map on this one: avoid peanuts until age 2/introduce them early, avoid/consume them during pregnancy, avoid/consume them during breastfeedingYou caused this problem if you didn’t breastfeed/you caused this problem if you did.

I see the outpouring of anger, bewilderment, frustration and guilt; but worst of all is the second guessing by women who have courageously guarded their children’s safety in a world that resists even the smallest accommodations – but now wants to give them advice and tell them how they should have done it better.

Pay them no heed. You’ve been on the front lines dealing with an epidemic that even the experts are at odds to explain, much less provide consistent advice on how to treat and prevent.

To my wife Debra and all you wonderful women out there who are fighting the good fight, I salute you. Whether you’ve found yourself consoling a child who couldn’t attend a birthday party because of contact fears, or you’ve taken on your entire school board to ensure a child’s safety, you are the heroes to your children and mine.

And nobody does it better.

Dave Bloom

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