Allergist Kirsi Jarvinen-Seppo, MD, PhD, knows that for children with food allergies, even trace amounts of an allergen like peanuts, milk, eggs or shellfish can have hazardous results. That?s why she doesn?t just treat the symptoms of allergies, she conducts research aimed at someday putting a stop to them.
Dr. Jarvinen-Seppo treats patients at Albany Med?s Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center, and conducts research at the Center for Immunology and Microbial Disease at Albany Medical College.
According to Dr. Jarvinen-Seppo, food allergies affect approximately 6 to 8 percent of children, and are on the rise, particularly peanut allergies, which are three times more prevalent now than 15 years ago. Similar data does not exist for other food allergies, she says, but allergies in general have increased, along with asthma and hay fever.
Of particular interest to Dr. Jarvinen-Seppo is whether maternal diet during breast-feeding protects or predisposes infants to the development of food allergies. For example, if a breast-feeding mother eats peanuts, is her infant more or less likely to develop a peanut allergy, or does it make no difference? Her findings may eventually help revise maternal and infant feeding guidelines for infants at risk for development of food allergies?defined as at least one first degree relative with documented food allergic disease.