Med School/Year Graduated: Medical College of Wisconsin, 2007
Years in Practice: 6 years
It seems food allergies are presenting in more and more children, at younger and younger ages. Is it actually a case of an increased rate of allergies, or just heightened awareness?
The rate of “true” food allergies – which we clinically refer to as IgE-mediated allergies – has been increasing, particularly in Westernized countries. It’s been linked to modern lifestyle, environment, diet and so forth.
We’re hearing more about early exposure, or “food challenging,” to reduce allergies in children. What are your thoughts and recommendations on introducing foods like peanuts to small children?
For most infants, you don’t need to delay introduction of highly allergenic foods. For high-risk infants, I skin-test [for] peanut [allergies] and, pending body size, recommend food challenge with a safe preparation. Guidelines advise doing this as early as 4 to 6 months of age.
What is the most common allergy you’re finding in your young patients?
Cow’s milk, which commonly causes the “true” food allergy called eosinophilic esophagitis. Other implicated foods are egg, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, wheat and fish. I also see a lot of environmental allergies, especially since pollen is nearly perennial [in the Valley].
Is it possible for children to grow out of allergies as they age?
Yes. Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing a child gain tolerance to a food, which is typically determined after testing and doing an in-clinic food challenge. [Tolerance is ultimately achieved] in 80 percent of children with cow’s milk, egg, wheat and soy allergies.
What does the immunology portion of your specialty entail?
We’re trained to diagnose and treat primary immunodeficiencies like Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), which was added to Arizona’s newborn screen in 2017 and is a fatal condition if not treated, so it’s very rewarding to care for those patients.
Do you or your children have any allergies? How have they impacted your life and your work?
Fortunately, my children and I have no food or environmental allergies – so far! I introduced foods around 4 to 6 months, but didn’t stop worrying about my children until they were consuming all food groups regularly.
You hail from Wisconsin, the land of cheese. What is your favorite cheesy local dish?
I really like Barro’s white pizza, but I also think cheese makes almost any dish better! Regarding Wisconsin, I miss the fresh cheese curds and Friday fish fries with walleye, perch and haddock.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be...”
A dentist. I was actually pre-dental in college, but switched at the last minute.