Pediatric Food Allergy Program
The Pediatric Food Allergy Program, affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, offers expert care and second opinions for children of all ages with suspected or diagnosed food allergies.
Food allergies affect approximately one in 13 children in the United States, and they can range from mild to life threatening. Common allergens include foods like peanuts, soy, milk, tree nuts, and eggs, which are found in many foods that children encounter every day. Because food allergies cause a wide range of reactions—including hives, eczema, asthma, gastrointestinal issues, and anaphylaxis—they are best diagnosed and treated by a multidisciplinary team who has expertise with allergies, asthma caused by food allergies, and related gastrointestinal disorders.
Our team includes allergists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, and nutritionists, who work closely with our young patients and their families to help them navigate the many challenges posed by food allergies, so that they can live healthy, productive lives.
Your visit with a food allergy expert will begin with a thorough dietary and medical history, which will include any history of allergic reactions in family members. We will ask you which foods are causing a reaction, what the reaction looks and feels like, and how much time passes between eating a food and having a reaction. We will then schedule some tests, which may include:
- Skin prick tests, which help confirm allergies to specific allergens by scratching the skin with a liquid extract of the allergen and observing the reaction.
- Blood tests, which measure immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, with high amounts indicating a possible food allergy.
- Food challenges, which are used to confirm that your child has outgrown a food allergy by allowing your child to eat small amounts of a trigger food under the supervision of an allergist and a nurse.
- Endoscopy, colonoscopy, and motility studies, which are scheduled when we suspect a gastrointestinal disorder caused by food allergy, such as eosinophilic esophagitis.
Our child life specialists are available to help your child through the diagnostic process.
Treatment at Columbia
Treatment for food allergies begins with learning to avoid the cause of the reaction. This poses unique challenges for children who are often faced with social situations involving food—such as school lunch, playdates, birthday parties, and summer camp.
We believe that treatment works best when our patients and their families become our partners in care. Once a food allergy is identified, we will help you learn to read labels, make food substitutions, and eat healthy, well-balanced meals that avoid allergens. Depending on the severity of the allergy, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be part of your child’s treatment plan, or more advanced biologic treatments. Oral immunotherapy—which can help some patients tolerate increasing amounts of food to which they are allergic by slowly introducing the food at low doses—has also been recently approved for a certain food allergies and will likely expand. We will work closely with you to find the best solutions for your child.
We will also create a plan for dealing with an allergic reaction. Your plan may include medications, such as antihistamines, or an epinephrine auto-injector (epi pen) in case of an emergency.
Our physicians have special expertise in the treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an allergic condition which causes inflammation of the esophagus. Children who are diagnosed with celiac disease are referred to the multidisciplinary Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Conditions We Treat
- Common food allergies (such as egg, milk, peanut, tree nut, fish, soy and wheat)
- Uncommon food allergies (fruit, meat, additives)
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)
- Food protein-induced entercolitis
- Food allergy in the context of multiple allergic symptoms, including asthma, hay fever, and abnormal blood levels found in allergy-related tests such as eosinophils and high IgE.
- Genetic diseases that lead to allergy
Access to Latest Research and Clinical Trials
Our patients have access to the most current research and treatments through food allergy clinical trials supervised by our food allergy specialists. We are currently studying:
- Genetic studies of children with food allergies
Our doctors see patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and at several outpatient locations in Manhattan, Westchester, Riverdale, and Staten Island. Call 212-305-2300 to make an appointment or learn more.