Is There a Cure for Peanut Allergies?

Many parents likely got excited recently when they read about a possible cure for peanut allergies.

Peanut allergy could be cured with probiotics
Medical News Today

While these types of treatments are called cures by some people, what they do is desensitize you to peanuts, so that if you have a reaction, it is less severe. Some don’t have reactions anymore though. Probiotics were just part of the ‘cure’ though. They were paired with oral immunotherapy.

Is There a Cure for Peanut Allergies?

So is there really is a cure for peanut allergies?

I’m guessing it doesn’t matter if you call it a cure or a treatment if you have a child with a severe peanut allergy, you really just want to know if it is available for your child, right?

And again, there isn’t a simple answer.

Although it does seem like they are being used more and more, many of these treatments are still being tested, so they likely aren’t available everywhere, or in some cases, anywhere outside of a trial.

Among the treatments for peanut allergies, besides avoidance and treating anaphylactic reactions with epinephrine, you some day soon might be able to get your child with peanut allergies:

  • a wearable skin patch to provide epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT)  – in phase III studies
  • a pill to provide orally administered biologic immunotherapy  – in phase III studies
  • oral immunotherapy with Xolair (FASTX) – in phase II studies
  • a combination of probiotics with peanut oral immunotherapy (PPOIT)
  • sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) – in phase III studies
  • a vaccine – in early phase I studies

How do these treatments work?

The patch is the easiest to explain. Kids simply apply a new patch that contains peanut protein on their skin each day.

Oral immunotherapy is similar, kids are exposed to peanut protein, but unlike the patch, the dose is steadily increased each day, until you read a maintenance dose, that you continue eating each day. Most of these treatments use some variation of the characterized oral desensitization immunotherapy (CODIT) method to control and maintain desensitization.

And these treatments are not just for peanuts. Similar studies are being done for eggs and milk. And theoretically, they can be done for anything that can trigger an IgE-mediated allergic reaction, from foods and medicines to environmental allergens.

The downside? In addition to side effects, in most cases, you have to continue eating the thing you are allergic to every day, otherwise your allergy might return.

So, Is There a Cure for Peanut Allergies?

While many of these treatments are promising, they are not ready for regular use in every doctor’s office.

“The aim of OIT is to administer a food allergen slowly, in small but steadily increasing doses, until the patient stops reacting to the food (termed becoming desensitized to the food). OIT studies have shown promising results, though adverse reactions are frequent and may cause significant side effects like abdominal pain, wheezing and/or diarrhea. Published data from placebo-controlled trials have shown that only 50 to 70 percent of patients attempting OIT complete desensitization, with the failures primarily due to side effects. Also, there currently are no standardized protocols or foods used in OIT and no FDA approved approach that could allow insurance to reimburse for this therapy. Thus, there are challenges with the current practice of OIT.”

FARE Statement on Oral Immunotherapy for Food Allergies

That doesn’t mean that you can’t get some of these treatments right now or overcome those challenges.

Avoiding peanuts is not always as easy as you think... Peanuts under my seat on a plane.
Avoiding peanuts is not always as easy as you think… Peanuts under my seat on a plane. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Just keep in mind that “An allergist doing OIT for patients in a private practice develops his/her own individualized protocols and uses his/her unique food preparation.”

If your child’s food allergy has led to severe stress and anxiety for your family, that might not matter though. You probably don’t want to wait anymore if there is a chance at reducing your child’s chance of having a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.

Still, find a pediatric allergist who has a lot of experience doing private practice OIT.

On the other hand, if you are fine refilling your child’s epi-pens every year and working hard to avoid peanuts, then maybe wait until the jury comes in and we get an official recommendation and more standardized treatments become more widely available.

What Else Should You Be Doing About Food Allergies?

If you don’t do private practice OIT, then in addition to strictly avoiding the things to which your child is allergic and making sure that an epi-pen is always readily available, the latest guidelines recommend that your child have:

  • annual testing if they have a milk, egg, soy, or wheat allergy
  • testing every two to three years if they have a peanut, tree nut, fish, or shellfish allergy

Why retest?

Kids do sometimes outgrow their allergies, especially if the allergy isn’t to peanuts or tree nuts. And even for peanuts, about 20% of kids have a chance of outgrowing their allergy.

Also remember that it is now recommended that infants at high risk for peanut allergies, especially those with eczema, have an early introduction of peanut proteins, sometimes as early as four months of age.

Hopefully that will help decrease the number of kids who need these kinds of treatments in the future.

What to Know About Treating Peanut Allergies

Oral immunotherapy and some other treatments are providing new options to help kids with severe food allergies avoid life-threatening reactions.

More About Treating Peanut Allergies

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a very common childhood skin rash, that surprisingly, few parents seem to have ever heard of.

While most parents have likely have heard of eczema, ringworm, and impetigo, a diagnosis of molluscum might leave them with their head scratching. Hopefully their kids won’t be scratching too.

Molluscum is contagious!

Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum lesions are typically small and dome shaped, with a small dimple in their center. Although often flesh colored, they can also be pink.

They are usually found alone or grouped on a child’s chest or back, arm pit, or around the skin folds of their elbow and knees.

For many children, molluscum don’t cause any symptoms and the rash is simply a cosmetic problem. Others can get redness and scaling on the skin around the molluscum rash, and it may be itchy.

Another characteristic is that molluscum will sometimes have a plug of cheesy material coming out of the central part of the lesion.

Spotting Molluscum Contagiosum

The diagnosis of molluscum is usually made based on their classic appearance.

Three molluscum lesions on a child's arm.
Three molluscum lesions on a child’s arm. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

The diagnosis can be confusing at first though, when the molluscum are still very small. It may take a few weeks for the lesions to grow before they look like more typical molluscum lesions.

Molluscum might also be confused with other rashes if they are red and inflamed when you go see your pediatrician, or if there is a lot of redness around the rash. That might make your pediatrician think that your child has a small abscess or simple eczema.

Getting Rid of Molluscum Contagiosum

Since molluscum usually goes away in about six to nine months on its own, some pediatricians advocate not treating it. Keep in mind that it can sometimes last for two to four years and may spread aggressively, which is why others do recommend treating molluscum with:

  • Direct removal with a curette
  • Cryosurgery – freezing
  • Cantharidin – a blistering agent
  • Aldara cream (Imiquimod) – also used for genital warts, although they are not related to molluscum
  • Retin A cream (Tretinoin) – also used for acne

All of these treatments have their shortcomings though.

Direct removal and cryosurgery are painful. Cantharidin can cause large blisters. Aldara is expensive. And Retin A doesn’t always work well when used by itself. Also, both Aldara and Retin A can be very irritating to the normal skin that surrounds the molluscum rash.

More About Molluscum Contagiosum

So what should you do about your child’s molluscum?

Talk with your pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist about your options, which might include:

  • Leaving the molluscum alone, especially if your child has already had them for several months and they are not spreading. Just avoid sharing towels and skin-to-skin contact with others, because they are contagious. It is not a reason to stay out of school or daycare though.
  • Trying direct removal with a curette or cryosurgery if your child only has a few lesions. Although it can be painful, your pediatrician can consider using a topical anesthetic.
  • Using cantharidin if your child doesn’t have a lot of lesions. It is not FDA approved in the United States though, so not all doctors have it, and it can sometimes produce large blisters.
  • Using Aldara cream or Retin A cream – either alone or together on alternate days.

Most importantly, if you do treat your child’s molluscum, watch for new lesions during treatment. They are contagious and start spreading the infection again, even if the initial treatment was successful. And molluscum has a very long incubation period – up to about two months!

Other things to know include that:

  • Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a double-stranded DNA poxvirus.
  • Molluscum can be spread by direct contact with an infected person, touching contaminated objects (such as towels, toys, or clothing), and on a child when they scratch a lesion and then scratch other areas of their skin (autoinoculation). So encourage your child to not pick at them.
  • Molluscum can grow aggressively in children who have a weakened immune system.
  • Molluscum can be a sexually transmitted infection in older teens and adults. It is so common in young children though, that unless there are other signs or suspicions, it is usually not considered a sign of abuse, even if you find an isolated lesion in the anogenital area.

Also keep in mind that a pediatric dermatologist can be helpful if your child has molluscum that isn’t responding to standard treatments.

What to Know About Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a very common viral infection that can cause a skin rash in children. Although difficult to treat, it does typically go away on its own – eventually.

More Information on Molluscum Contagiosum

The Breastfeeding Elimination Diet for Fussy Babies with Allergic Colitis

What should you do when your breastfeeding baby gets fussy?

Your Fussy Baby

Babies cry. Talk to your pediatrician if the crying seems to be excessive, especially if you have a hard time consoling your baby.
Babies cry. Talk to your pediatrician if the crying seems to be excessive, especially if you have a hard time consoling your baby. (CC BY 2.0)

Like a formula fed baby, you should make sure your fussy breastfeeding baby isn’t hungry and doesn’t have a fever, colic, reflux, teething, an upper respiratory tract infection, and all of the other things that can make them fussy.

After eliminating those, and seeing your pediatrician to make sure that your baby has been gaining weight well, it might be time to eliminate things from your diet, as your baby might have allergic colitis (protein-induced colitis).

This is especially true if your breastfeeding baby is fussy, extra gassy, and has foul smelling, green, mucousy stools. You might also notice streaks of blood in your baby’s stool or that your baby has bad eczema already.

While babies can’t be allergic to your breast milk, they can certainly be allergic or intolerant to any number of things that you eat or drink and which enter your milk.

Foods To Eliminate First

Even before you start to think about foods to eliminate from your diet, please keep in mind that this isn’t a reason to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. Since most formula is based on cow’s milk, your baby will likely continue to have problems on most routine formulas. Some babies even continue to have problems drinking an expensive hydrolyzed protein formula (Alimentum or Nutramigen) and have to move to an even more expensive elemental formula (Elecare, Neocate, or PurAmino).

Once you do begin to think about eliminating foods from your diet, you should probably start with milk and diary foods. Those are the most likely to cause issues with your baby, either an allergy or intolerance. And they are probably the easiest to avoid. If supplementing with some formula, be sure that it is milk and soy free. A hydrolyzed protein formula (Alimentum or Nutramigen) would usually be a good first choice.

The Breastfeeding Elimination Diet

If that doesn’t work, you can continue to eliminate other foods or foods groups from your diet, one at a time until you find what is triggering your babies symptoms, including:

  • soy
  • citrus fruits
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • peanuts
  • wheat
  • corn
  • strawberries
  • chocolate
  • fish and shellfish

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that after eliminating a food or food group, breastfeeding moms “wait a minimum of 2 weeks and up to 4 weeks,” although they should see improvement much sooner, within 2 to 3 days.

A Faster Breastfeeding Elimination Diet

Eliminating one food group at a time and waiting to see if it works can take time. A faster, but much more extreme approach is to eliminate most high-allergen foods all at once.

So what do you eat on this restrictive diet?

On this type of low-allergen diet, a breastfeeding mom might end up only eating foods like lamb, pears, squash, and rice. Other foods in this type of total elimination diet might also include chicken and turkey, potatoes, apples, and bananas.

Once your baby’s symptoms resolve, you can then slowly start introducing foods back into your diet, one food or food group at a time each week. Of course, stop a food if your child’s symptoms come back after it is reintroduced into your diet.

After avoiding a problem food for about six months and once your infant is 9 to 12 months old, you can likely reintroduce it into your diet and watch for symptoms

Another option, before trying the total elimination diet, might be to avoid milk, soy, fish, shellfish, and wheat. Then go total if that doesn’t work.

More About Breastfeeding Elimination Diets

Remember that once your baby is better and you are back on a fairly regular diet, simply avoiding the one or two foods that your baby can’t tolerate, it is still possible that your baby will be fussy sometimes. While it could mean that you ate something you weren’t supposed to, it also mean that you baby is teething, has a cold, is off her schedule, has developed reflux, or any number of other things. It’s not always going to be about food issues.

Also keep in mind that:

  • you should take vitamins (in addition to your daily prenatal vitamin, you will likely need extra calcium) to make up for anything you are missing in your elimination diet, especially calcium, vitamin D, iron, and folate, etc. and make sure you are getting enough protein and calories
  • missing the hidden ingredients in foods are likely a big reason why babies continue to have symptoms while you are following an elimination diet (for example, milk can sometimes be found as an ingredient in luncheon meats, many baked goods, and many other nondairy products) – check food labels and understand how to identify hidden ingredients in foods
  • lactose free cow’s milk, low fat cow’s milk, and other animal milks, including goat milk, are not good substitutes if you are trying to avoid cow’s milk in an elimination diet. Even soy milk and other soy products can often cause similar reactions. You also should try and make your own, homemade baby formula.
  • some vitamins and supplements can be a source of hidden milk, soy, and wheat
  • after avoiding a food for about six months and once your infant is 9 to 12 months old, you can likely reintroduce it into your diet and watch for symptoms
  • a registered dietician can help manage make sure you are getting all of the nutrients you need on this restrictive diet
  • in addition to your pediatrician, a pediatric gastroenterologist can also help manage your baby with allergic colitis, especially  when you need to follow a total elimination diet

Fortunately, allergic colitis is not common, so few breastfeeding mothers should have to try, or stick with, any of these types of restrictive diets.

And since some studies are showing that babies who just have some rectal bleeding don’t even have allergic colitis and that their symptoms go away without any interventions, make sure your baby’s symptoms actually warrant these types of treatments.

What To Know About Breastfeeding Elimination Diets

A breastfeeding elimination diet can be helpful if your baby is overly fussy and might have a milk protein allergy or intolerance to other foods that you are eating.

More Information on Breastfeeding Elimination Diets

Misunderstanding the Affordable Care Act and Understanding Why It Should Be Saved

If the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) gets repealed, it likely won’t be because folks understand what it does.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to plans to repeal the ACA and wants to KeepKidsCovered.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and is working hard to #KeepKidsCovered.

It will be because many people don’t realize that they are benefiting from Obamacare or even what it really does.

Obamacare Under Attack

The Affordable Care Act has been under attack almost from the day it was enacted.

Since the original Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, and through dozens of others, we have most recently had the:

  • Better Care Reconciliation Act
  • Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act
  • Health Care Freedom Act (“Skinny” repeal)

They all failed.

The latest attempt to repeal Obamacare is the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Bill.

Will this bill pass?

As a pediatrician, I am fearful for my patients and the uncertain future they would face under Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) health care proposal, currently set for a vote next week in the U.S. Senate. As president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I must speak out against this dangerous, ill-conceived policy on behalf of our 66,000 pediatrician, pediatric surgical specialist and pediatric medical subspecialist members, and stop it from advancing…

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges the Senate to oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal, and instead turn to bipartisan solutions that are crafted in the best interest of children and families, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, which both expire next week. Pediatricians will continue to focus on the children we care for as this process unfolds, and we will not stop speaking up on their behalf until we see legislation that puts them first.

Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics on the AAP Statement Opposing Graham-Cassidy Health Care Proposal

Like the other bills, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Bill will fail if any of these organizations that have come out in opposition have anything to say and do about it:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • American Public Health Association
  • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Children’s Defense Fund
  • Children’s Dental Health Project
  • Family Voices
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • AARP
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
  • American Hospital Association
  • ALS Association
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Heart Association
  • American Lung Association
  • Arthritis Foundation
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Family Voices
  • JDRF
  • Lutheran Services in America
  • March of Dimes
  • National Health Council
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • National Organization for Rare Diseases
  • Volunteers of America
  • WomenHeart

How can they pass a health law that every major health organization opposes?

“This bill contains proposals we have seen in previous bills, and we already know they would be bad for people with CF – and some cases, go even further. Graham-Cassidy would allow states to get rid of certain pre-existing condition protections, open the door to annual and lifetime coverage caps and high risk pools, and make massive cuts to Medicaid.”

Cystic Fibosis Foundation

In addition to repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Graham-Cassidy:

  • makes massive cuts to Medicaid
  • turns Medicaid into a block grant and caps its funding
  • ends Medicaid expansion
  • eliminates ACA’s marketplace subsidies

Graham-Cassidy should not be allowed to pass.

Add your voice to the opposition if you agree. Contact your Representative and Senators to let them know that you oppose the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill.

Understanding the ACA

Most people understand that the ACA allowed many uninsured people to finally get insurance. Either with the help of tax credits, simply because the plans were available, or through the expansion of Medicaid, about 20 million have insurance because of the ACA.

What many people don’t realize is that they likely benefited from the ACA, even if they aren’t one of these 20 million people.

Some of the ACA benefits for everyone with any kind of insurance included:

  • no refusal for coverage because you have a pre-existing condition – which could include things like asthma, ADHD, anxiety, and depression or a cancer that is in remission
  • coverage for young adults so they could stay on their parent’s insurance plan until they are 26 years old, even if they are in school, working, or married
  • the elimination of annual and lifetime limits or caps – which some kids with complex health problems could reach in a single year
  • no co-pays for preventative care visits, from well-child visits and vaccines to mammograms and colonoscopies and well adult visits for men and women
  • no co-pays for breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • coverage for maternity services
  • coverage for mental health and substance abuse services
  • insurance plans can’t drop you if you get sick

Most people like those benefits.

Personally, I no longer see parents who worry about my diagnosing their child with asthma or anxiety because of how it “will look” on their insurance. And we don’t have to worry that a diagnosis of anxiety or depression won’t be covered because they have insurance that doesn’t include mental health benefits.

And, even though the Vaccines for Children program was available, it is nice knowing that insurance covers their vaccines that can protect them from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

Misunderstanding the ACA

Not realizing all of these benefits is only one way that folks misunderstand the ACA.

Are premiums under Obamacare soaring?

Actually no. Insurance premiums have gone up at slower rates for all of us than they did before Obamacare took effect!

“We have a national law that will continue to work overall, but which has some problem spots. That frames the real choice here. It is not, as Trump, McConnell, and Ryan would cynically lead the American people to believe, between repealing the ACA or coping with impending disaster. Rather, it is between repealing the law and repairing it.”

Scot Lehigh on Hard truths about Obamacare

Do some people have fewer options as some major insurers drop out of the ACA Marketplaces? Sure. But that’s still better than the zero options they likely had before the ACA when they were uninsured.

What about the idea that Obamacare is failing overall? It’s not.

What to Know About Misunderstanding the ACA

Obamacare is not failing and has helped millions of people get insurance coverage. All of the plans to repeal and replace it have been huge steps backwards that have been opposed by every major health organization.

More Information About Misunderstanding the ACA

What Is the American College of Pediatricians?

Every time you hear about or read something and quickly think to yourself, “did the American Academy of Pediatrics really say that?” – it’s almost certainly from the American College of Pediatricians.

Tucker Carlson turns to the American College of Pediatricians when he wants to take sides against transgender kids and their parents.
Tucker Carlson turns to the American College of Pediatricians when he wants to take sides against transgender kids and their parents.

The names sound alike, perhaps intentionally, but the two groups couldn’t be more different.

Who are they?

The American College of Pediatricians is basically the Bizarro World version of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The American College of Pediatricians vs American Academy of Pediatrics

Like the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) pushes and promotes “misleading and incorrect” recommendations based on the ideology of their members, not using science and evidenced based medicine.

“…ACPeds was born from an ideological split within a profession. It was founded in 2002 as a protest against the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics’ support for LGBT adoption rights — and that opposition remains central to the group’s identity…

But thanks to its deceptive name — which makes it sound as if it is the mainstream professional organization for pediatricians — ACPeds often serves as a supposedly scientific source for groups pushing utter falsehoods about LGBT people.”

Southern Poverty Law Center on how the American College of Pediatricians Defames Gays and Lesbians in the Name of Protecting Children

That’s why most of the press releases and position statements from the ACPeds are against (while the AAP supports):

Michelle A. Cretella, MD, FCP (Fellow of the College of Pediatricians), the President of the American College of Pediatricians, has even praised the book Preventing Homosexuality, calling it “an invaluable resource for parents.” She is also on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that supports reparative or conversion therapy for homosexuals.

The American College of Pediatricians goes so far as suggesting adding a ‘P’ to LGBT acronym. No, the ‘P’  wouldn’t stand for pansexual in their world – it would stand for pedophile.

“In one sense, it could be argued that the LGBT movement is only tangentially associated with pedophilia. I see that argument, but the pushers of the movement, the activists, I think have pedophilia intrinsically woven into their agenda. It is they who need to be spoken to and against.”

American College of Pediatricians Blog on “P” for Pedophile

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is considered a fringe group and should never be confused with the mainstream American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

ACPeds AAP
200 to 500 members in just 47 states 66,000 members in 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and Canada
founded in 2002 founded in 1930
makes claims against vaccines supports vaccinating and protecting kids
supports corporal punishment by parents opposes spanking
designated as a hate group not a hate group
“The American College of Pediatricians promotes a society where all children, from the moment of their conception, are valued unselfishly. We encourage mothers, fathers and families to advance the needs of their children above their own. We expect societal forces to support the two-parent, father-mother family unit and provide for children role models of ethical character and responsible behavior.” “The American Acade​my of Pediatrics is dedicated to the principle of a meaningful and healthy life for every child. As an organization of physicians who care for infants, ​​children, adolescents, and young adults, the Aca​demy seeks to promote this goal by encouraging ​and assisting its members in their efforts to meet the overall health needs of children and youth; by providing support and counsel to others concerned with the well-being of children, their growth and development; and by serving as an advocate for children and their families within the community at large.”

Yes, the American College of Pediatricians is actually considered an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center!

What to Know About the American College of Pediatricians

A fringe group of pediatricians, the American College of Pediatricians promotes misleading information based on the ideology of their very small group of members.

More About the American College of Pediatricians

 

 

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What’s Wrong with Homemade Baby Formula?

Once upon a time, before we had commercial baby formula, didn’t everyone make their own homemade baby formula if they couldn’t breastfeed or were separated from their baby?

Not necessarily.

Some parents hired a wet nurse and others simply fed their baby wheat containing porridge or milk from camels, cows, goats, or even pigs. Of course, wet nursing was the safest option by far.

History of Homemade Baby Formula

There were recipes for ‘baby formula’ though, which often “consisted of a liquid ingredient (milk, beer, wine, vegetable or meat stock, water), a cereal (rice, wheat or corn flour, bread) and additives (sugar, honey, herbs or spices, eggs, meat).” These recipes were missing foods with vitamin C and were later missing vitamin D, iron, and protein, as they were mixed with more water and less meat and eggs.

Before commercial baby formula was widely available, public health nurses had to sometimes teach new moms how to make their own formula.
Before commercial baby formula was widely available, public health nurses had to sometimes teach new moms how to make their own baby formula.

Fortunately, there were several major breakthroughs in the mid-nineteenth century that offered hope to babies who couldn’t breastfeed, including the invention of the rubber nipple and other feeding devices, improved methods of hygiene and later pasteurization, and the first commercial baby formula.

Many of the first baby formulas basically looked like homemade recipes, such as the Leibig formula – a powder made up of wheat flour, malt, and potassium bicarbonate that was added to diluted cow’s milk. Later, there were recipes to make baby formula from condensed and then evaporated milk (mixed with corn syrup).

And eventually, in the 1950s, we got the commercial baby formulas that we still use today.

What’s in Baby Formula

Like breastmilk, baby formula has three main components that provide the calories:

  • a sugar
  • fats
  • proteins

Different combinations of these proteins (cow’s milk vs soy), sugar (lactose vs corn syrup), and fats (vegetable oils), etc., help produce cow’s milk based, soy based, and elemental baby formulas.

And then, to make it more like breastmilk, lots of other stuff can be added to baby formula, including DHA, probiotics, and nucleotides, etc.

Enspire, the newest formula from Mead Johnson, also adds lactoferrin, Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM), and prebiotics, to try and make it their “closest formula ever to breast milk.”

What’s Not in Baby Formula

Are you still confused about what’s in your baby’s formula?

While it might make you feel better to feed your baby goat milk, it won't make your baby feel any better, and could make them sick...
While it might make you feel better to feed your baby goat milk, it won’t make your baby feel any better, and could make them sick… (CC BY-ND 2.0)

It’s possible that you are just confused about what you think is in your baby’s formula?

Kristin Cavallari has written that she made her own homemade baby formula because “I would rather feed my baby these real, organic ingredients than a heavily processed store-bought formula that contains ‘glucose syrup solids,’ which is another name for corn syrup solids, maltodextrin, carrageenan, and palm oil.”

So what are glucose syrup solids and why are they in your baby’s formula?

While cow’s milk based baby formulas use lactose (glucose plus galactose) as their source of sugar, non-milk based formulas usually use use sucrose (cane sugar) and corn syrup solids (glucose).

Should you worry about cane sugar in some organic formulas?

What about the corn syrup in formula? Isn’t that bad for them?

No. These are just different types of sugar. Even maltodextrin is simply glucose polymers made from corn starch that is used as a thickening agent in baby formula and other foods.

And no, corn syrup solids don’t have anything to do with high fructose corn syrup.

Goat Milk Formula

In addition to warning about making homemade formula, pediatricians have long warned about feeding baby’s goat milk and goat milk based baby formula.

Goat milk is very high in sodium and protein, giving almost three times the amounts present in breast milk. And cross-reactivity that occurs between proteins means that babies who are sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk will likely have problems with goat milk too.

“It is recommended that formula-fed infants who are allergic to milk use an extensively hydrolyzed, casein-based formula. This type of formula contains protein that has been extensively broken down so it is different than milk protein and not as likely to cause an allergic reaction.”

FARE on Formula for Infants with a Milk Allergy

Of course, that doesn’t keep folks from pushing “false and potentially dangerous information” about what some think are benefits of goat milk for infants.

What’s Wrong with Homemade Baby Formula?

In her latest book, Kristin Cavallari, known for dangerous stance against vaccines, even offers a recipe for a goat’s milk baby formula that is made with:

  • filtered water
  • goat milk powder
  • pure organic maple syrup – provides calories from sugar
  • extra virgin olive oil – provides calories and monounsaturated fats
  • unflavored cod-liver oil – for extra vitamin D and vitamin A
  • unsulfured blackstrap molasses – for extra iron and calcium
  • coconut oil – for omega-6-fatty acids
  • probiotics

In this homemade formula, much of the sugar, protein, and fat and half of the calories comes from goat milk.

The majority of the sugar comes from the maple syrup though, which is just sucrose. Just like the sucrose from cane sugar that folks complain about in some organic formulas.

Extra fat comes from the olive oil.

What about the other ingredients?

They provide extra vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin A, and iron.

What’s missing?

This homemade formula seems to be missing folate. Goat milk is deficient in folate and can lead to megaloblastic anemia and it is one of the main reasons babies should avoid unfortified goat milk.

And it is missing enough vitamin D to avoid vitamin D deficiency.

Cavallari’s recipe seems to add just 100IU of vitamin D to the whole 32 ounce batch (from the cod liver oil). That’s just 10IU per 100ml, about 6 times less than baby formula. Keep in mind that it is recommended that infants get at least 400IU of vitamin D each day.

Remember that formula is fortified with vitamin D and breastfeeding babies are supposed to take a vitamin D supplement. Depending on your water filter, this homemade baby formula recipe might also be missing fluoride, which infants start to need beginning at around six months.

Can You Find a Safe Homemade Baby Formula Recipe?

You probably can, especially if you use a full fat milk powder that has been pasteurized and fortified with vitamin D and folic acid and the right combination of other ingredients to get enough calories, protein, fat, sugar, and all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to gain weight and development normally.

“FDA regulates commercially available infant formulas, which are marketed in liquid and powder forms, but does not regulate recipes for homemade formulas. Great care must be given to the decision to make infant formulas at home, and safety should be of prime concern. The potential problems associated with errors in selecting and combining the ingredients for the formula are very serious and range from severe nutritional imbalances to unsafe products that can harm infants. Because of these potentially very serious health concerns, FDA does not recommend that consumers make infant formulas at home.”

FDA Questions & Answers for Consumers Concerning Infant Formula

You will almost certainly have to give your baby a multi-vitamin each day too.

Also, you will have to make sure you are mixing all of the ingredients of your recipe correctly and safely, so that you don’t contaminate any of the batches.

But it still won’t be any better for your baby than store bought formula.

So just like skipping your RhoGAM shot, skipping your baby’s vitamin K shot and delaying or skipping vaccines, you will have some very big risks and absolutely no health benefits.

What to Know About Homemade Baby Formula

Stick to breastmilk or an iron fortified baby formula until your baby is at least twelve months old. There are no benefits to feeding your baby a homemade baby formula and there are certainly some risks. Those risks go up even more if you use raw goat milk or leave out key nutrients.

More About Homemade Baby Formula

Viewing the Solar Eclipse – Hype or Hazard

A total solar eclipse is a big deal, although it seems like it might be a bigger deal for some people than it is for others.

What kind of eclipse will you be able to see on August 21st? Map courtesy of NASA.
What kind of eclipse will you be able to see on August 21st? Map courtesy of NASA.

It does start to seem like a bigger deal the more you learn about it…

Solar Eclipse HYPE

Still, there is a lot of hype surrounding the upcoming solar eclipse in the United States.

“Observing a total solar eclipse is a life-changing event. It challenges everything you conceive of as normal.”

Sean Lindsay on the Eclipse hype

Do you buy it?

  • will looking at the eclipse make you go blind?
  • will seeing the eclipse change your life?
  • will you regret missing the eclipse for the rest of your life?

While viewing the eclipse won’t make you go blind, at least not instantaneously, what about all of the hype about how important an event the eclipse is to view? That part has to be true, right?

“A partial eclipse is interesting but forgettable, while a total eclipse is a memorable, life-changing event which burns itself into memory – and never fades. And so we, who have seen this sight, ask you to join us on this momentous day, and do everything you possibly can to see it with us. But you must remember that “close” is not close enough; in order to see the eclipse in all its glory, you simply must…”

“Close” is NOT close enough!

It is for some people. And you might not know if you or your kids are that type of person unless you go and see the eclipse! In totality!

Solar Eclipse HAZARD

  • seeing the eclipse without protection will damage your eyes

We all know that you shouldn’t look directly at the sun or your eyes will get damaged.

And in most cases, you can’t.

It hurts to look at the sun. You’re pupils will constrict. You will blink a lot. And you will very quickly turn away.

At least in normal circumstances.

A solar eclipse is not a normal circumstance.

Since most of the sun is covered, you could likely stare at it (but definitely shouldn’t) and get a good long look at the eclipse. Unfortunately, the part that isn’t covered will be painlessly damaging your eyes, leading to burns on your retina and solar retinopathy.

But isn’t all of the sun covered in a total solar eclipse?

“During the very brief time the sun is in total solar eclipse it is safe to look at it, but do so with caution. Even during the total solar eclipse, the total eclipse may last only a short period of time, and if you are looking towards the sun as the moon moves away from blocking the sun, you might get a solar burn on your retina which can cause permanent damage to your eyes.”

Prevent Blindness America

Yes, but only for a very short time and only if you are in the path of totality.

During totality, it is safe to take your eclipse glasses off and look at the eclipse, being aware that totality may last only a minute or two.

This diamond ring means that the eclipse is not at totality yet and you still need eye protection to look at the sun.
This diamond ring means that the eclipse is not at totality yet and you still need eye protection to look at the sun. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Again, you must be very sure that you are inside the path of totality for a chance at looking at the eclipse without protection – a 70-mile wide band from central Oregon through South Carolina.

If you are not in this relatively narrow band, you will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse, but at no time will it be safe to view the eclipse without protection.

Are you going to be able to see a total or partial eclipse on August 21st?
Are you going to be able to see a total or partial eclipse on August 21st?

Remember that even if you live in or have traveled to a spot inside the path of totality, the total eclipse itself will only last a few minutes.

The whole eclipse will last much longer though.

From the start of the eclipse, to maximum eclipse, to the end of the eclipse, you might be looking at a three hour event. That’s a lot of time to be at risk of looking at the sun outside of totality and getting eye damage if you aren’t wearing protection.

Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse

What kind of protection do you need to safely view a solar eclipse.

Fortunately, you have a lot of options.

This solar eclipse viewing protection can include using:

  • solar filters, including ISO 12312-2 compliant eclipse glasses that have been sold online in packs of 5 or 10 (but including some that have been recalled), handheld solar viewers,  and full aperature solar filters for cameras and telescopes
  • a pin-hole viewer that you can easily make yourself with something as common as a cereal box
  • a 2D or 3D printable pinhole projector
  • a solar viewing projector using binoculars or a telescope (not looking through the telescope itself though, unless it had a proper solar filter!)
  • No. 13 or 14 welder’s glasses

But unless you are building a pin-hole viewer or are going to an official eclipse viewing event, be sure your protection is really going to protect your child’s eyes. Are the eclipse glasses you ordered fake, recalled, scratched, or damaged? Then don’t use them.

And make sure younger children are well supervised during the entire eclipse, so that they don’t look at the eclipse at any time that you are outside the time that you are in totality.

Some people will have a better chance of viewing a total solar eclipse in 2024.
Some people will have a better chance of viewing a total solar eclipse in 2024.

What if they miss it?

They won’t have to wait too long for the next total solar eclipse. Another one is headed our way in 2024.

What to Know About Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse

I don’t know if it will change your child’s life, but there is no good reason to let them miss this total solar eclipse (or partial eclipse if you aren’t in the path of totality), as long as you take some very simple steps to make sure they view it safely.

More About Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse