I wrote a blog a couple of years ago which indicated that researchers found that people with food allergies are increasing at a significant rate—an 18% jump between 1997 and 2007 alone, and that peanut allergies have tripled in recent years. That blog indicated several reasons for this rapid increase, but I won’t go into those specifics with this blog,
The good news, however, is that there is now a therapy to prevent this increasing threat with the recent recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the first-ever drug to treat life-threatening peanut allergies in children.
This drug is not a cure for the allergy. Rather, the goal of this therapy is to greatly reduce the risk of accidental exposure to small amounts of peanuts and peanut-based food products that can set off a catastrophic and life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
The new drug is an oral immunosuppressive therapy regimen that reduces sensitivity to peanut allergens over time. Gradual exposure to small amounts of peanut protein over the course of six months or so can allow a child with a severe peanut allergy to safely ingest the equivalent of two peanuts without a significant reaction.
This does not mean the child can safely eat peanuts from that point forward, but it does reduce the allergic reactions from the accidental ingestion of peanut dust from contaminated food preparation surfaces, products manufactured in plants where peanut products are also manufactured, and products containing small amounts of peanut-source ingredients.
I think some of you may remember that I am a volunteer certified running coach. This year my coaching focus has been to develop a youth running program in the non-profit running club that I am a member of.
One of the significant things we do in our registration process of our youth training program is to identify the medical/medication needs and any significant allergies of our young participants. Food allergy identification is a primary component of that screening process since we serve snacks at the end of each training session.
We have had several of our youth participate who have severe peanut allergies. We identify those kids on day one and make sure their parents provide separate snacks to prevent any possible risk of triggering a life-threatening event during group snacks and rehydration.
Such kids are the likely candidates for this drug regimen. It could possibly save the life of one of those kids if they accidentally ingested a peanut-containing product in the future.
Thoughts? Comments” I’d love to hear them!