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Innovative Food Allergy Center for Children and Adults Launches at Montefiore

Comprehensive Diagnostic and Treatment Services Offered in Scarsdale and Bronx  

Scarsdale/Bronx, NY (May 13, 2014) – The Food Allergy Center at Montefiore Medical Center officially opened in Scarsdale and the Bronx to serve both adults and children who suffer from food allergies. This comprehensive program, which is part of the Division of Allergy and Immunology of the Department of Medicine at Montefiore, is comprised of a team of experts in pediatric and adult allergies, including the newly recruited center leader, Manish Ramesh, M.D., Ph.D. It will offer patients access to innovative testing and new approaches to food allergy treatment. 

Food allergies are a growing problem in this country, affecting nearly 15 million people, including 1 in 13 children. An allergic reaction can cause hives, wheezing, swelling of lips, mouth, eyes or tongue, difficulty breathing or even loss of consciousness and death. 

“Food allergies can be life threatening and our new one-stop center offers highly advanced testing breakthroughs to make the most accurate diagnosis possible for our patients,” said David Rosenstreich, M.D., director, Division of Allergy and Immunology of the Department of Medicine at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “Our approach aims to use the latest in food allergy science and research to enhance the quality of our patients’ lives and impact their survival in the event of an allergic reaction.”

Research shows eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions. The most common foods people are allergic to include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios), wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Physicians are able to diagnose food allergies using traditional skin prick or blood tests; however, more advanced testing is often needed to identify the trouble foods for some people.

Traditional tests can identify most food allergies, but they sometimes result in false positives, which can cause nutritional, emotional, social and financial problems for patients. Advanced testing offered at Montefiore’s Food Allergy Center, such as component tests and oral food challenges (OFC), helps reduce these false positives.

The oral food challenge is a highly accurate diagnostic test that introduces certain foods and eliminates them. During this test, the allergist feeds the patient the suspected food in measured doses. Following each dose, the patient is observed for a period of time for any signs of a reaction. If there are no symptoms, he/she will gradually receive increasingly larger doses. If there are any signs of a reaction, the food challenge will be stopped.

Additionally, component testing breaks a food down into individual protein components and improves diagnostic accuracy. Traditional food tests look at all parts of the relevant food together, but all parts of a food do not contribute to allergies equally, causing problems in diagnosis.

A wide range of allergies will be treated by the experts at Montefiore’s Food Allergy Center, including:

  • Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction
  • Pollen food syndrome, a cross-reaction between pollen and certain foods
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis (inflammation of the food pipe or esophagus caused by allergy to specific foods) 
  • Food protein-induced enterocolitis or colitis (severe vomiting and diarrhea in infants and toddlers caused by specific foods)
  • Eczema, food-induced skin rash

“Through the latest research, we are pleased to offer the newest tests that have been developed in recent years to break down the mystery of food allergies and solve even the most complex cases,” said Manish Ramesh, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Food Allergy Center. “With offices in Westchester and the Bronx, we will be able to offer our unique clinical expertise to a wide range of patients throughout the region.”

Dr. Ramesh, who will become assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Immunology in the Department of Medicine at Einstein effective July 1, is a board-certified allergist who completed his fellowship training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The Food Allergy Center is located at Montefiore Medical Specialists of Westchester, 495 Central Park Ave, Scarsdale, NY 10583 and at the Montefiore Medical Park, 1515 Blondell Ave., Bronx, NY. For questions or to schedule an appointment, call 866-MED-TALK.