Alexis Wislotsky, MMS ‘23, found her capstone topic while working with parents during her pediatrics rotation for the Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program at Salus University.
She found that many new parents had a lot of anxiety surrounding allergies in their newborns. “This one parent in particular was concerned because her oldest son had a milk allergy and she wanted to know if there was anything she could do to prevent that in her newest baby,” she said. “The pediatrician did not really have any advice since the only study had been on peanuts.”
Seeing an opportunity to expand research and potentially ease these fears, Wislotsky decided to pursue her capstone project titled, “Does introducing cow’s milk early in infancy prevent an IgE mediated allergy compared to infants that are introduced to cow’s milk at an older age?”
This research specifically pertained to any infant formula derived from cow's milk protein, meaning it cannot only ease allergy-related anxiety, but also bring more awareness to the idea of formula feeding for new parents. “There's this big stigma that breastfeeding has to be the only form of feeding your baby early in childhood,” said Wislotsky.
She mentioned that while breastfeeding does have many benefits, there is often a lot of pressure on new parents to solely breastfeed without using any formula supplementation. She hopes her capstone, which ultimately found even a small amount of cow's milk formula daily had some effect on the reduction of cow's milk allergies later in childhood, can help to break this stigma. “It's not like saying that you have to do formula in infancy, but parents could do breastfeeding with supplementation which could have a positive effect later in childhood,” she said.
Her ultimate conclusion came after extensive research, most of which came from trials across the world. She commented on the lack of randomized trials pertaining to milk allergies specifically, saying it would be beneficial to have more extensive and defined research in this specific area.
Wislotsky recently completed the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam, and hopes to start in general medicine before continuing her career in either OB-GYN work or pediatrics. Regardless of where she ends up, she looks forward to helping women and families alike.
“OB-GYN is obviously a very vulnerable field and I like that you can help women out in some of their most exciting and vulnerable times in life,” she said. “With pediatrics, I just like the connections you make with parents and kids. That's a connection that you can have over 18 years”