Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Highlights from Dr. Jones' Talk, Part 1

At our July UFAN chapter meeting, we were fortunate enough to have Dr. Douglas Jones come speak to our group about the latest food allergy news in testing, treatments, and research. As the only full-time board-certified allergist in Davis County, he discovered when he opened his practice almost a year ago that people in this area have a dire need for accurate, up-to-date information about food allergies. Our group was no exception – we may be more well-informed than many of the people he sees, but we were still anxious to learn more, and he obliged beautifully!

Dr. Jones covered a wide variety of topics for us, and delved into both the science and the regulations that affect research and testing. He covered so much that I’m going to mention a few highlights from his presentation this week, and more next week.

How early can children be tested for food allergies? Dr. Jones said there’s no specific limit on when a child can be tested. It’s more important to look at the child’s and family’s history of reactions, what they want to learn, the family’s needs, and so on. Theoretically, you can test anytime if the child’s history really warrants it, but it’s a case-by-case decision. Dr. Jones recommends retesting every 6 to 12 months for younger kids, less frequently for older kids.

Should you avoid common food allergens when pregnant or nursing to avoid causing your baby to have allergies? Dr. Jones doesn’t feel there’s enough good data to base a decision on. He says it’s probably more important to continue to eat a healthy diet and not worry so much about the allergens in it, because the fetus needs the nutrition. He stresses to mothers: “It’s not your fault!” As for nursing, there is some evidence to suggest nursing for 4-6 months may be beneficial. As far as mothers avoiding foods while nursing in an effort to try and prevent food allergies, there is no data to support this. If you can identify a pattern with nursing and reactions, then that’s one thing, but avoiding things to try to prevent allergies is not recommended. He says it could be more likely that children develop food allergies through accidental skin contact (Uncle Fred forgot to wash his hands after eating those peanuts) rather than through breast milk. Until there’s more data, it’s another case-by-case decision.

Eczema: Apart from Dr. Jones’ discussion, the group had a general discussion about eczema, and why so many pediatricians don’t seem to realize that most cases have an underlying root cause, and most often that root cause is food allergies. Dr. Jones didn’t have an answer for why this is unrecognized or ignored by primary care doctors. But, we all know people whose children have suffered for years with eczema, and their doctors have simply prescribed steroid creams and sent them away, before the parents finally went to an allergist and had their children tested. Often those children’s skin is clear in a matter of a couple of weeks after eliminating the offending food – often milk or eggs – from their diet. It's such a simple thing to test for and cure, yet these children suffer for years sometimes because their doctors don’t know or won’t accept that food allergies could be the cause.

For More Information: Dr. Jones recommended a book called Food Allergy Survival Guide, by Vesanto Melina, Dina Aronson, and Jo Stepaniak.

Those are some of the topics we discussed, and we all learned a tremendous amount. Next week I’ll write about more highlights from his talk, including blood serum testing, the latest news on the Chinese herbal study, and more. Many, many thanks to Dr. Jones for coming to share his knowledge with all of us. If you want to contact his office for an appointment, here’s his information:

Dr. Douglas H. Jones, MD
Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma, Immunology
1660 W. Antelope Dr ., Suite 310
Layton , UT 84041


Infant Bibliophile said...

Thank you for sharing this! I couldn't attend the meeting, but it sounds like it was really informative. We suffered through eczema before we demanded allergist referrals too. Early testing revealed a couple of allergens, but it was only when later testing caught (we hope) all of them that his eczema virtually disappeared. We saw a wonderful dermatologist, who really understood how much eczema effects quality of life... we had to cosleep or he'd scratch his eyelids until they bled, for instance. It's a lot more than itchy skin.

I wish they could get some solid answers on food avoidance during pregnancy and nursing.

Lynn (mom to 11/07 toddler allergic to tree nuts, wheat, sesame, eggs, and milk).

Juliea said...

Thanks Kelley! I enjoyed reading, very informative and I look forward to your next post. Nursing right know and having to avoid wheat, milk, soy because baby is having reactions already.