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Bear Essentials Online - April 2011

Meet Specialists in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children's National

Darlene Mansoor, MD

Allergy SpecialistsDarlene Mansoor, MD, is a pediatric allergist immunologist and is an attending physician in the Special Allergy Clinic in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's National Medical Center. She sees a wide variety of allergic disorders, including asthma, eczema, and hives. In addition, she offers specialized care for the unique needs of patients with food allergy, gastrointestinal food allergy, and eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders. Dr. Mansoor sees patients at Children's Sheikh Zayed campus as well as Children's Northern Virginia Regional Outpatient Center.

Cindy Nguyen, MD

Cindy Nguyen has been at Children’s National since November 2010. She sees patients with food allergies and anaphylaxis and specializes in all allergic and immunologic diseases including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and eosinophilic esophagitis. Dr. Nguyen sees patients at Children’s Sheikh Zayed Campus in DC on Mondays and Fridays and at the Northern Virginia Regional Outpatient Center on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Anna Sprunger, PA-C

Anna Sprunger, PA-C, sees immediate and delayed food allergies, eczema, allergic rhinitis, asthma, urticaria/angiodema, and contact dermatitis. She specializes in pediatric allergic disorders and has an interest in food allergies and eosinophilic esophagitis. Anna sees patients at the Northern Virginia Regional Outpatient Center.

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Food Allergy 101

PeanutsA food allergy is a response by the immune system when it mistakenly recognizes a certain food as dangerous. The immune system of someone with a food allergy produces immunoglobulin E, an antibody, to fight the food allergen. As a result, when the person is exposed to that food, IgE binds to it and causes the release of a number of chemicals, including histamine. This leads to an allergic reaction. The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. There are almost three million children in the United States with food allergies.

Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies

An allergic reaction can happen with any number of symptoms. These symptoms occur within minutes of eating the triggering food. Contact your pediatrician if you notice the following:
  • Skin: hives, eczema, redness, and swelling of the face or extremities, and itching and swelling of the tongue, lips, mouth, and throat
  • Stomach: nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Breathing: runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing
  • Cardiovascular system: a drop in blood pressure, fainting, and dizziness
A severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, usually happens suddenly and can include a number of symptoms. Seek medical care immediately if you notice the following:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat
  • Severe vomiting
How to Manage Food Allergies

The primary and most effective way to treat food allergies is to avoid any foods or drinks containing the allergen. Below are some additional tips:
  • Develop an emergency action plan including children, parents, and school officials in the planning process. Be sure to let other caregivers know your child has a food allergy.
  • Read the labels on packaged foods. By law, any food produced in the United States after 2006 must clearly list the ingredients derived from any of the eight major food allergens.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by using utensils and pans that have been thoroughly washed with soap and water. If cooking several foods at the same time, cook the allergen-free meal first, then keep it covered and away from any splatter caused by other foods that are cooking.
  • To effectively clean in a food allergy environment, surfaces must be washed with soap and water. To be safe, buy an extra cutting board to be used for allergy-free foods only, or use a disposable plate.
  • When dining out, present a chef card to the waiter. Chef cards list the foods and related ingredients your child is allergic to.

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Get Creative with your Activities

Exercise does not have to mean going to a gym or participating in an organized sport. You can incorporate exercise and activity into your family’s daily life in other ways. Here are some indoor and outdoor activity ideas for you to do as a family.

Outdoor Activities
Get Creative with your Activities
  • Play tag: freeze tag, television tag, flashlight tag, etc.
  • Play kickball with a large, soft ball
  • Have a track meet: skip, hop, run, and sprint
  • Explore a new park or back road on foot or bicycle
  • Walk the dog
  • Play frisbee
  • Take a walk after dinner instead of turning on the television
  • Hike a local trail
  • Invite neighbors to a game of “capture the flag”
  • Take a swimming trip to a nearby lake or river
  • Play “Simon Says” or “Red Rover”
  • Make a hopscotch or four square grid on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Jump rope
  • Play hackey-sack
  • Play a team sport such as football, softball, or volleyball
  • Go rollerblading or biking around the neighborhood
  • Have a squirt gun battle on a hot day
  • Make an obstacle course and see who navigates it fastest
Indoor Activities
  • Dance to music
  • Build forts out of blankets and chairs
  • Follow homemade maps to locations around the house
  • Stretch
  • Make a band. Play instruments made from kitchen items using pots and pans as drums, rice in plastic bottles as maracas, etc.
  • Act out favorite books or stories
  • Make an indoor bowling alley with homemade pins (made from empty milk jugs, juice bottles, or cereal boxes) and a small rubber ball
  • Play basketball with toys when cleaning up (shoot toys into a toy “basket”)
  • Do scavenger hunts in which family members compete against one another on teams
  • Create your own fitness test with jumping jacks, jogging in place, push-ups, and sit-ups
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Children's National Medical Center's Strong Tradition of Research

StethoscopeResearch at Children’s National is conducted through Children’s Research Institute (CRI), the academic arm of Children’s National Medical Center. The Institute conducts and promotes research and education programs within Children’s that lead to improved understanding, prevention, treatment, and care of childhood diseases.

The institute is divided into four specialty research centers: Research at Children’s National is highly collaborative and multidisciplinary. In 2009, the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center was launched to redefine what is possible in surgery through innovative, integrated research. By combining research and clinical work in this area with the groundbreaking translational research underway at Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National is developing knowledge, tools, and procedures that will benefit children in the Washington region, across the country, and around the world.

Follow the history of research at Children’s National.

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Jump Start Your Child's Day with Breakfast

What’s a Good Breakfast?

Healthy BreakfastBreakfast does not have to be composed of so-called breakfast foods. Soup, sandwiches, or leftovers make great choices for breakfast. Also, it is important to remember that not all foods packaged as breakfast food are the best source of fuel for children’s bodies to start off the day. Some choices are better than others. For example:
  • Plain oatmeal mixed with chopped apples and low fat milk contains whole grains, fiber, vitamins, and protein. Whole grains and fruit have fiber which helps keep us feeling full longer. They also contain carbohydrates, which is the most efficient source of energy for our bodies.
  • Protein foods like low fat dairy foods, nuts, and lean meats can be added to breakfast and may help satisfy your child’s hunger longer.
  • A good breakfast can be anything your child or teen will eat that has some nutritional value, including leftover pizza, a glass of milk (even low fat, low sugar chocolate milk is fine), a piece of fruit with yogurt, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with whole wheat bread.
  • Eating high-sugar foods such as doughnuts may make your child feel sleepy and may increase his or her hunger sooner than healthier foods.
Learning and Hunger

A hungry child may perform poorly in the classroom. Breakfast is the fuel that will help get your child’s brain through the morning. Children can become cranky and irritable when they are hungry. Without energy, they may be less alert and attentive to classroom activities. That’s why teachers often remind children to eat breakfast before taking a long morning test.

Healthy Weight

Some teenagers believe that they can control their weight by skipping breakfast. This is not true. Eating breakfast helps to control weight because it gets the body’s metabolism moving- it’s a jump start to the day. Also, teens are less likely to overeat later in the day when they eat breakfast. When you wait too long before eating, it can be almost impossible to control the amount of food consumed, resulting in excessive caloric intake.

Make sure your children eat breakfast. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and eat, but having this meal, or even just a glass of milk or piece of fruit, will be beneficial to them all day.

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Recipe of the Month - Allergy-Free Recipes

Depending on your child’s type of food allergy, substituting certain foods may be necessary. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) suggests the following simple substitutions:

Substitute in equal amounts, with water or fruit juice. (For example, substitute 1 cup milk with 1 cup water.)

These substitutes work well when baking from scratch and substituting 1 to 3 eggs. For each egg, substitute one of the following in recipes:
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon liquid, 1 tablespoon. vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tablespoon water, 1 ½ tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 packet gelatin, 2 tablespoon warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.
When baking with wheat-free flours, a combination of flours usually works best. Experiment with different blends to find one that will give you the texture you are trying to achieve. Try substituting 1 cup wheat flour with one of the following:
  • 78 cup rice flour
  • 5/8 cup potato starch flour
  • 1 cup soy flour plus ¼ cup potato starch flour
  • 1 cup corn flour
Turkey Pasta TossTurkey Pasta Toss (Dairy-, egg-, and gluten-free)

Preparation time: 20 minutes

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (¾ to 1 cup)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 12 ounces gluten-free egg-free pasta
  • Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
  • While the pasta is boiling, cook the onions in 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet.
  • Add the ground turkey and sauté into small pieces until well cooked.
  • Add the celery and carrot slices and cook on low heat until desired softness.
  • When the pasta is done, drain and add it to the skillet.
  • Stir and heat the mixture through.
Serves: 4


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