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Allergy & Clinical Immunology Unit
We take a team approach at the Mass General Food Allergy Program, integrating the expertise of different clinicians to optimally diagnose and treat patients. Depending on symptoms and medical history, the care team may include:
Having psychologists as part of our team is particularly useful in helping patients manage elimination diets and food aversions. In addition, we can bring in other specialists (e.g. dermatologists, pulmonologists and otolaryngologists) as indicated by your history. We are also happy to coordinate care with your existing care providers.
Mass General is one of the few academic medical centers in Boston to treat both adults and children with food allergies. This continuum of care is important because while many children outgrow their food allergy, others require lifelong management of their condition. In these cases, consistency of approach is important.
Pediatric patients who remain under our care into adulthood enjoy the comfort that comes from receiving long-term care through a single program. Additionally, we will help coordinate care as patients make transitions to new specialists, such as from a pediatric to an adult gastroenterologist. Learn more about MassGeneral Hospital for Children's dedicated Pediatric Food Allergy Center.
Depending on the disease symptoms, new patients at the Food Allergy Program are seen first by either an allergist or gastroenterologist. The initial evaluation typically entails a detailed medical history, physical examination and blood tests.
When appropriate, we also refer you for skin prick testing or occasionally patch testing and/or a food challenge. In some cases, suspected gastrointestinal allergic disease may be further evaluated by endoscopy. Careful selection and interpretation of these various tests helps us pinpoint which foods may be causing your symptoms.
An important goal of evaluation is first to determine whether a suspected food reaction is indeed due to an allergic reaction. Next, we seek to identify the offending food. Finally, we choose the most effective treatment for you, either avoidance (the most common solution) or medical treatment.
In the case of an avoidance diet, we work with our dieticians to design a solution that provides optimal nutrition. We also offer expert guidance on avoidance of the foods we have identified as problematic, including a detailed treatment plan to manage unintentional exposures.
Based on results of recent studies regarding possible prevention of peanut allergy in children who would otherwise be at risk, we have recently opened a dedicated clinic at Mass General Waltham once a week focusing on evaluation, management and prevention of peanut allergy in children.
Your entire care team is committed to educating you about your diagnosis and the various aspects of its management, which can be difficult to navigate (especially for children). We believe ongoing patient education is essential to optimizing long-term management of your food allergy. Throughout your relationship with us, we will be completely forthcoming about the limits of what we currently understand and what we believe to be the most promising areas of research.
Today, treatments for food allergy are largely limited to avoidance. At the Food Allergy Program, we are committed to conducting multidisciplinary research that furthers our understanding of food allergy. As proven new treatments emerge, they will help us provide the best possible care for all our patients.
Upcoming clinical trials at Mass General will explore:
Browse online for open trials
The Mass General Food Allergy Program offers a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for adults and children at the hospital's main campus in Boston, which includes MassGeneral Hospital for Children. Many of our services are also available at Mass General Waltham. Pediatric allergy services are also available at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
We focus primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of:
Certain diagnostic tools (which many hospitals do not have) help our team in making accurate diagnoses, such as:
Treatment for food allergy usually consists of educating the patient on avoiding the foods causing the symptoms, including unintentional exposures.
Our multidisciplinary team includes allergists and other clinicians who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating food allergies, and incorporate the latest evidence-based research into treatment protocols.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, director of the Food Allergy Center, joined Mass General in 2009 to help us enhance patient care by:
Dr. Shreffler did his fellowship training at Mount Sinai Medical Center, which is nationally recognized in food allergy research. He is a member of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research, whose goal is to identify the best possible treatment approaches for food allergies through research.
We are dedicated to preparing the next generation of great academic clinicians and researchers in allergy and immunology. Fellows in the Allergy and Immunology Training Program receive clinical and research training in food allergy, including patch testing and food challenges. Internal medicine and pediatrics residents also gain exposure to food allergy patients as part of their general training.
Accepting New Patients
As an infant, Grace Beecher’s parents found her difficult to soothe. Not until her family uncovered severe food allergies was Grace able to thrive.
The landmark LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut) study demonstrated an amazing, yet challenging opportunity to decrease peanut allergy prevalence and stop a food allergy before it starts.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, the chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, responds to the results of a peanut oral immunotherapy with probiotics trial (PPOIT) study.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, the chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, provides insight into new National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recommendations and their potential implications for patient care.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Food Allergy Center experts share their surefire tips for ensuring families with food allergies experience a happy and healthy holiday season.
In addition to practicing pediatric allergy/immunology at MGHfC and the Newton-Wellesley Hospital outpatient Pediatric Specialty Ambulatory Care Center, Dr. Iyengar conducts translational research on breast milk factors implicated in the development of allergic disease. As an Associate Investigator of the Harvard Clinical Nutrition Research Center (HCNRC) at MGH, she studies the role of breast milk in modulating gut mucosal responses in allergic disease.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, division chief of Pediatric Allergy & Immunology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains the differences between food challenges, which are established methods of care, and oral immunotherapy, which is still in research.
After-school activities can be difficult with a food allergic child. Rose Ann Miller talks about her own experience sending her food allergic child to summer camp. Learn about how she worked together with the Food Allergy Center to prepare herself, the camp and her child for this new life hurdle.
Nancy S. Rotter, PhD, a pediatric psychologist in the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, treats children who are impacted by medical illness and specializes in understanding the challenges of preparing allergic children for transitions at different developmental stages. Sarah Wolfgang talks about her own experience managing her day to day activities with her two allergic children.
Qian Yuan, MD, PhD, is a gastroenterologist and clinical director at the Food Allergy Center (FAC) at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before coming to Mass General, Dr. Yuan worked with renowned immunologist and allergist K. Frank Austen, MD, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he sparked an interest in Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE or EoE). Read about the exciting research projects and advancements in EoE at the center.
Research at the Food Allergy Center including an oral immunotherapy study of peanut-allergic children, a study of older adolescents and adults with milk and peanut allergies, and plans for a new, multi-food study with Stanford University, and more.
The Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital has conducted more than 200 food challenges with a pass rate of about 70 percent. A food challenge is the most definitive procedure for testing whether someone can tolerate a specific food. Parents from the Food Allergy Center talk about their own experiences with food challenges.
The Food Allergy Center is currently enrolling peanut allergic children ages 7–21 years in an oral immunotherapy (OIT) study, which involves administering small doses of peanut powder, increased over time. Read about Deb Edmunds’ insiders experience with her daughter, Ashley Edmunds, who is currently enrolled.
The Food Allergy team at MassGeneral Hospital for Children answers common concerns about food allergies and school.
An estimated 65,000 individuals attended the Boston Health & Fitness Expo.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, a pediatric allergist at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, answers questions about proposed changes to air travel regulations.
Read about three patients who have benefited from services at the Food Allergy Center.
With the hope of making a long-term impact in the field, The Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) has been established to diagnose and treat known and suspected cases of food allergies.
Tadgh Murray continues to clear social and medical hurdles with help from the Food Allergy Center.
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, a pediatric allergist at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, answers questions about the diagnosis and treatment of food allergies.
In Fall 2009, Massachusetts General Hospital established a comprehensive center for the treatment and study of food allergy and food-related disorders to provide state-of-the-art care while investigating the mysteries that underlie these inadequately understood and as yet incurable diseases.
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