In late 2010, when England-based health-and-science writer Robin Nixon Pompa gave her then-4-month-old daughter, Clara, a tiny portion of her scrambled eggs, she never imagined what would happen next.
“Her whole face swelled up like a big red balloon,” recalls the author of the new book “Allergy-Free Kids: The Science-Based Approach to Preventing Food Allergies” (William Morrow; out Tuesday). “I was terrified that her airways were constricting and she would go into anaphylactic shock.”
Mercifully, after calling the UK National Health Service’s emergency hot line, Pompa was told that an emergency room visit wasn’t necessary because Clara’s reaction was already starting to subside. However, in that scary moment, Clara joined the 6 million children in the US and 1 million in the UK diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies.
At first, Pompa was convinced that her daughter was going to lead a fearful life eating a restricted diet. But a consultation with esteemed, pioneering physician Dr. Gideon Lack, professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College, London, changed her mind.
Contrary to the recommendations of some more traditional allergists who advise avoidance of an allergen at all costs — or at least until the immune system has supposedly matured — Pompa was instructed to feed Clara one-twentieth of an egg every day, gradually increasing the “dose” until she built up an immunity and was no longer allergic.
Six years later, Clara is allergy-free.
Pompa’s book comes at a time when there has been a revolution in the field of allergy prevention.
Last September, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that found introducing infants to peanuts or eggs at an early age was associated with a lower risk of developing allergies.
In January, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and…