Last year, many national children’s health advocacy groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, endorsed a practice called early allergen introduction. Early allergen introduction is an evidence-based and effective practice to reduce allergies in children, and could significantly benefit people on Medicaid.
What is early allergen introduction?
Early allergen introduction is a practice used to introduce infants to foods that are high-risk for allergies, such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, soy and sesame. This practice includes using products that, while commercially available, can be very expensive without insurance.
Introducing infants to these foods early can help their bodies recognize these foods and avoid developing an allergy. Medicaid should cover these products as they do supplements and vitamin for individuals who give birth.
Why is this a health equity issue?
Allergies, and being able to treat them, don’t impact Pennsylvanians equitably, especially when it comes to race, income level, and geographic region. Black boys in urban areas are more likely to develop food allergies, and children who live in rural areas are less likely to have access to necessary doctors who can help keep allergies under control. Further, low-income children are also unlikely to have access to doctors or be able to afford important medication. Some allergies require special foods that are typically expensive, and are unable to be purchased using government programs such as food stamps.
By including early allergen introduction in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, Pennsylvania may reduce the number of children suffering from food allergies by up to 80% and save millions of dollars in healthcare spending.
PHAN and other children’s healthcare advocates strongly support coverage of early allergen introduction. Read more about our advocacy by clicking this link.