When I was growing up I didn’t know anyone with food allergies. We all brought peanut butter sandwiches to school, and shared our snack bounty with everyone.
These days, schools are peanut free, our kids have friends with strawberry allergies and nut allergies, I have a sensitivity to mushrooms, gluten can be a problem, some people are allergic to dairy products.
At the moment there are no cures for food allergies, other than avoidance of the food in question. When you are talking about allergic children it becomes even more difficult as they are not always aware of the ingredients of a food that they are offered.
Duke University and John’s Hopkins University are hard at work developing a treatment that could allow allergic children to safely, without risk, eat and enjoy the foods that cause them these allergic reactions. It is estimated that this treatment could be available within six to eight years, according to Dr. Robert Wood from Johns Hopkins.
The research currently underway is on allergies to cow’s milk. They are desensitizing the children by giving them tiny amounts of the milk – they swallow it (oral immunotherapy), it is not injected. They did try sublingual therapy but have found that having the child swallow the allergen is more effective. The researchers have studied 30 young children, aged 6 to 18 with severe cow’s milk allergies.
Results suggest that one year of sublingual therapy plus up to two years of oral immunotherapy desensitize the child enough that they were not likely to have major allergic reactions during the oral immunotherapy. However, there were still some allergy symptoms present.
Some of the test subjects have been able to eat dairy products for up to a year after treatment with no significant reactions, but Wood says that only a third of these children have long term protection. Some of these children will need regular exposure to dairy products to keep up their protection against having an allergic reaction.
Are your children allergic to any specific foods? How difficult is it for you to keep them away from these allergens?
Read Tamar's article on Food Allergies You Need to Know.