A few weeks ago I read about the death of a young teenage girl. She was at summer camp and ate a rice crispy treat that apparently contained peanut allergens. Her father, a doctor, was with her at the time and despite his persistent attempts to save his daughter – administering three epi-pens - this young woman lost her battle and passed away far too young.
As a mother of a toddler with severe food allergies that include peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, stories like this weigh heavily on my heart. I instantly begin empathizing with all of the parents out there who have buried their children because of an honest accident. I then naturally walk over to my son and hug him closely.
Food allergies are difficult, to say the least. Not only do you have to worry about what your child has taken from your cabinets, but you are also burdened with the threat of what other children grab out from their cabinets. It’s scary, yet much more common today. My sister who is a teacher informed me that last year, 56 out of 60 classrooms in her school hosted children with nut allergies. Although I never want any mother or child to live a life of fear, deep down inside, this growing number brings me hope. The reality – the more prevalent the issue, the more money and research that will go into finding a cure.
And it seems that there may actually be a cure around the corner. Recently I received an email from PeanutAllergy.com. Some emails come through my inbox with recipes, others with horrible stories like the one above, and some reporting on studies. This email was exciting: “Will There Be a Peanut Allergy Patch? A worldwide study is being conducted which could lead to a patch for peanut allergy sufferers. The patch would help people become desensitized to peanuts.”
There is in fact a global peanut allergy study that involves the testing of a new patch. And though it may take a few years to reach conclusions, the allergy community is very hopeful. The purpose of a peanut allergy patch would be to desensitize the patient over time, with an ultimate aim to eventually make people who have a peanut allergy tolerant of peanuts, even if they take off the patch.
This is not the only study that is underway. There have been and continue to be similar studies that involve a process of desensitizing patients by administering small doses of the allergen orally over time. These studies are proving hopeful for many patients, though not for others. A few participants have experienced reactions ranging from minor to anaphylaxis.
Although it’s too early to tell whether the patch will be ‘the cure’, this allery mom is hopeful. My son is still very young, so I pray each day that he will outgrow his allergies. I have to say, it feels pretty good to also be able to pray that we will find a cure soon, should he not.
I would love to hear from fellow allergy moms out there. How do you feel about the ongoing studies? Would you enroll your child in a food allergy study?