Allergy Parents on a Mission
When our first child was born, we strictly avoided nuts and other common food allergens as our doctor and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended at the time. Unfortunately, she developed severe tree nut allergies and we entered the club of food allergy parents. Our third child was born just after Dr. Lack’s LEAP Study was published and it really rocked our world to learn that our older daughter’s allergy might have been preventable. The babies in the LEAP Study who avoided peanuts in the first 5 years of life were 5 times more likely to develop peanut allergies than babies who ate them regularly, starting in infancy. This gave us hope we might be able to prevent another food allergy in our family with early introduction, rather than avoidance.
Based on the LEAP Study, the NIH and American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines encouraging starting peanut foods in infancy to help prevent peanut allergies, but we found that difficult because a baby can’t eat nuts and nut butter must be watered down to avoid a choking hazard. We also needed to manage giving nuts to one child while ensuring our nut-allergic child remained safe. We tried ordering Bamba, the Israeli peanut puff used in the LEAP Study, but we didn’t like that the ingredients included genetically modified corn, palm oil, saturated fat and so much sodium. We wanted a clean, organic, and baby-friendly peanut puff and we quickly realized it didn’t exist.
Taking a LEAP
After our kids went to bed, we’d talk about the product we wanted: something easy to use that we could feel good feeding to our baby that also followed the science of the LEAP Study and AAP guidelines. We did a lot of digging and we couldn’t find any good options because the entire baby food industry is allergen-free. We know firsthand what it’s like to live with food allergies and ultimately, we felt it was our responsibility to create this company to help other families avoid them.
We strongly believe that our products have to taste great and not feel like medicine—otherwise 90% of people won’t use them. Feeding babies common food allergens needs to be normalized, not medicalized. We developed our puffs to make including peanut in a baby’s diet early and often, easy and enjoyable. Our puffs dissolve quickly for babies but taste delicious for big kids too, making them both a great way to follow the guidelines for babies and a nutritious all-family snack.
Timing is Everything
Most babies are NOT born with food allergies. There is a critical, one-time window for prevention starting as early as 4-6 months old, continuing through the first year of life. As long as a baby hasn’t developed a peanut allergy, it’s not too late to start, but the sooner peanut foods are introduced, the less likely a baby is to have a reaction. Importantly, introducing peanut into a baby’s diet should be done according to the NIAID guidelines, which are based on a baby’s risk factors. And parents should always talk with their doctor about any questions, especially if their baby is high-risk. Most babies can start eating puffs around 6 months old, though it’s different for every baby depending on development. If a baby isn’t quite ready for puffs, you can soften the puffs with water or breastmilk to make them even more soluble or use peanut powder until the baby can manage dissolvable textures.
How, what, when, where?
Mission MightyMe Proactive Peanut Puffs were formulated based on the LEAP study and match the amount of peanut protein recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (6 grams per week.) The children in the LEAP study consistently consumed peanut protein until the age of five to achieve the dramatic 80+ percent reduction in peanut allergies, so it’s important that once peanut foods are successfully introduced, they remain a regular part of the diet.
Spokin Verified Brand
Our ingredients are 100% organic and they are free of palm oil, added sugar and artificial ingredients. They also have 44% less salt than Bamba and all ingredients are carefully sourced here in the U.S. We are also a Spokin Verified Brand and you can learn more about our product ingredients and facility details on the Spokin App.
If Your Household Already Manages Food Allergies
We know that families that already manage food allergies are highly motivated to prevent allergies in their other children and having allergens in your home presents a unique challenge. We understand this firsthand, so our puffs are designed to be as clean as possible, leaving very little residue, powder or stickiness behind so little hands and trays can be easily cleaned afterwards.
Where can we buy them?
Our next product, Proactive Multi-Nut Puffs, will combine peanuts and several tree nuts. We are still working to include as many tree nuts as possible, while importantly, maintaining sufficient protein levels for each nut. They should be launching in early 2021. To stay up to date on new products and the Mission MightyMe newsletter, click here!
INSTA LIVE Q+A
Join our Insta Live Q+A with Mission MightyMe founders Catherine and J.J. Jaxon and Dr. Gideon Lack, the author of the LEAP study, on Spokin’s Instagram !
DR. GIDEON LACK, AUTHOR OF THE LEAP STUDY
The idea behind the LEAP Study came from a casual poll I took while speaking at an allergy conference in Israel. There were about 200 allergists and pediatricians attending and I asked them to raise their hand if they had seen any patients with peanut allergies in their practices as we had in the U.K. Surprisingly, only a few hands were raised. Something was clearly different in Israel. A number of Israeli parents told me that peanut snacks were amongst the first weaning snacks in Israeli life. I wondered whether paradoxically Israeli babies were protected from peanut allergy because they ate peanut puffs very early in life.
The LEAP Study
The LEAP Study tested my theory that the early introduction of peanut-containing foods was driving the lower rates of allergy in Israel. We enrolled 640 babies in the study that were 4-11 months old and were at high risk of developing peanut allergies because they had severe eczema or an egg allergy. This group of children had a high chance of developing a peanut allergy. We randomized half to eating peanut snacks like Bamba and other peanut-based foods and the other half completely avoided peanuts. The LEAP Study showed that feeding peanut-containing foods starting in infancy can prevent more than 80% of babies from developing peanut allergies. Between the U.K. and U.S., every year there are 100,000 babies born that will develop peanut allergies. Early introduction and following the LEAP Study can prevent peanut allergies from developing in most of those babies.
We now know there’s a critical window in the first year of life when most babies’ immune systems can learn to tolerate peanut protein and prevent a food allergy from ever developing. The window starts around 4-6 months old and ends before 11 months for most babies. The previous recommendation to avoid food allergens in babies’ diet wasn’t based on science and once those foods were removed from infants’ diets, the rate of food allergies rose dramatically. Nut allergies tripled in the two decades since avoiding them became the norm for babies.
Why Mission MightyMe
I was introduced to Catherine and J.J. Jaxon when they were in the early stages of bringing their idea to life. It became clear that we were aligned on two critical issues in creating a product. First, the product protein levels had to follow the scientific data from our research. It’s critical that the protein amount is sufficient, as only having very small amounts is insufficient to achieve protection and could potentially augment allergies. Second, the product needed to be real food, which helps boost adherence, not a medicalized product. A great-tasting puff makes it part of normal family life. And because it doesn’t spread or smear, it’s a great product for a family that already manages food allergies. I was so confident in the science and the Mission MightyMe strategy that I joined the company as a Co-Founder and Scientific Adviser.
Mission MightyMe delivers high levels of protein because it takes grams of food protein to protect against allergies. The LEAP Study infants who ate peanut products in the study consumed six grams of peanut protein each week. It’s not just a matter of giving the food protein to babies: it’s how much, how often and how long they’re being given it that makes the difference. A common mistake I see in my practice is parents giving a small amount of an allergen one week, then a small amount of another allergen the next week. This isn’t going to do the trick—it could actually worsen the risk of allergy. There needs to be sufficient and regular protein intake of the allergen every week. Otherwise it is unlikely to work.
An Early Start
There is a very low likelihood of a well child having a reaction when they are younger than 6 months old. Contrast that with the likelihood of a high-risk child, like one with severe eczema, developing peanut allergy being about 15%. It’s even more important to begin this process early with a high-risk baby. The NIH guidelines recommend babies with severe eczema should be eating peanut foods as of four months of age. Looking at the math, it’s far riskier to delay introduction. For high-risk children with severe eczema or egg allergy I recommend talking to your doctor first before introducing peanut. Low risk infants with no eczema can start eating peanut products at 6 months without consulting a doctor.
Should parents be starting them during the pandemic?
An inevitable consequence of the Covid pandemic is that young infants have had less contact with their pediatricians or family doctors. It’s understandable to be apprehensive due to the pandemic, however the window to acquire tolerance is narrow and waiting to introduce peanut in the baby’s diet increases risk of developing allergy. But I never want to tell parents to do anything outside of their comfort zone. Parents should talk to their doctors with any questions, especially if a child is high risk and has eczema or egg allergy. For information on early introduction during the pandemic, see Mission MightyMe’s blog.
Do all children need to introduce peanut foods early or just those at high risk?
Babies with very severe eczema are at higher risk of developing food allergy, so early introduction is especially important for this population—between 4 and 6 months of age. However, the majority of food allergies are developed by kids with moderate to no risk factors. Therefore, we believe that early introduction by 6 months should not be exclusively targeted to high-risk babies, but should include all babies, in order to see a significant reduction in the burden of peanut allergy in the population. Of course, the parents need to feel confident that their baby is developmentally ready to eat peanut products and other solid foods.