Can a powder reduce the risk of food allergies in kids?

Image: Food and Drink/REX/Shutterstock

Ashley Dombkowski and a sort of reverence talk about her job we would all like to have.

Until they take hold, Before Brands’ co-founder wants to prevent food allergies. She states she has a nephew with severe food allergies, and that heterosexual link makes her job, as she put it, “life’s work.”

The question is whether or not their mission will triumph.  

The issue, to be sure, is real. Food allergies among children in the United States are becoming much more widespread. Approximately 6 million U.S. kids under the age of 18 have food allergies, which amounts to one in every 13 children, according to the nonprofit Food Allergy Research and Education. Of those, about one-third are allergic to more than 1 food. This represents a 50 percent increase in food allergies one of U.S. children throughout the period from 1997 to 2011.  

Before Brands would like to reduce that tendency named Spoonful One. The product is a powder that, as explained on the provider’s site, is “designed to present all the meals most commonly associated with food allergies: peanut, tree nuts, milk, fish, poultry, shellfish, wheat, soy and citrus. In Addition, the pediatrician-recommended dose of Vitamin D.”  

Sprinkle 1 packet of the powder on the business claims, and, whatever your child is eating every day, that exposure will diminish your child’s risk of developing an allergy to the foods that are stored.  

The website says parents can start giving their children Spoonful One “anytime once your child is eating solid foods — especially critical during the initial year.” Parents can sign up for subscriptions that three, six, or 12 weeks. The lowest priced (per day) option is to sign up for a year, which costs $912.50 in full.

Dombkowski comes in the biotech sector, where firms focus on treating ailments. Here, she expects to be proactive about preventing allergies in healthy children.  

To do this, she teamed up with her co-founder, Kari Nadeau, the director of Stanford University’s Sean Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, whose university profile page describes her as “among the nation’s leading experts in adult and pediatric allergy and asthma.”  

In an email, Nadeau stated she could not answer questions since her Stanford lab licensed and patented the product to Before Brands, along with the university received royalties .  

However, the company’s chief medical officer, Wendy Sue Swanson, said the product is based on research. Swanson stated in order to reduce the danger of a range of allergies, Nadeau wanted Spoonful One to include a range of foods to that children could become allergic.

Allergy experts agree that exposure in life may be able to prevent children from developing allergies.  

To do that is an issue of debate.  

In 2015, a study shook up the area of food allergies sciencefiction. Known as the LEAP study (Learning Early About Peanut allergy), its results showed that consuming peanuts from a really young age can halt the evolution of a peanut allergy in children who had a high risk of developing one. A subsequent study “demonstrated that regular peanut consumption begun in early twenties and lasted until age five decreased the speed of peanut allergy in at-risk infants by 80 percent compared to non-peanut-consumers.”

Swanson said specialists had long told parents to prevent giving their young children peanuts, but the LEAP study and a subsequent study called LEAP-ON were so profound that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) issued new recommendations, advising parents to present “peanut-containing meals” to their children as young as four weeks old.

Since LEAP had only analyzed peanuts, that is 1 reason those recommendations pertained to peanuts.  

Joyce Yu, a food allergy expert and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, stated that the product is logical in some ways. Spoonful One is, when you get it down, a bunch of crushed egg nuts, and seafood up, amongst other items. Parents could theoretically do something similar at home (if they manage to figure out the right portions of each to smash), but it’d take a time investment, as well as Yu alluded to, lots of active parents could struggle to match the mashing of different foods into their daily or weekly schedules.    

However, Yu is worried that Before Brands is currently hitching their merchandise to the LEAP study, which is only 1 study that deals with one kind of food, not food’s range found in Spoonful One.  

“If doctors know these other foods also cause allergies, why don’t you try to prevent them with premature exposure, too?”

“It’s not like you have 500 studies out there,” she said, meaning studies about how different amounts of different proteins effect the development of food allergies.

Michael Pistiner, the manager of food allergy advocacy, education and prevention at the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital For Children, highlighted that LEAP’s results pertained only to children between eleven and four months older having a high risk of developing a peanut allergy.

LEAP participants ate peanut puff snacks “equivalent to six grams of peanut protein each week,” Pistiner said. The guidelines based off that study recommend intake — two grams each taken three times each week.  

Each serving of Spoonful One, according to a nutrition label posted on the company’s website, comprises less than 1 gram of all proteins combined, per serving. Taken daily, that amounts to less than seven grams of total protein per week.  

“It might not be enough protein,” Pistiner said. “The current[ly] accessible studies indicate higher quantities of peanut protein. It’s uncertain what the effects of considerably lower doses will be.”

Swanson says the business understands that the study pertains to peanuts, but they’ve decided to try to be on the forefront of in which they believe the data is pointing them. If doctors know these other foods cause allergies, why don’t you try to prevent them together with exposure, too? And Nadeau, as Swanson highlighted, is a “pre-eminent allergist.”  

“This is the very first effort and the first approach and the very first product,” Swanson said. “However, it wasn’t carelessly done.”

Pistiner urges parents talk before Spoonful One is used by them, and that those doctors be up-to-date on the latest guidelines set out by the NIAID.

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