OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – People with food allergies will soon have new food treatment options in the Kansas City area after six patients became desensitized to their peanut allergy.
After first introducing peanut desensitization to this area last year, Kansas City Allergy Asthma plans to add desensitization treatment this summer for five more foods:
5. Tree nuts
“These patients need protection too, and these families need peace of mind,” said Dr. Derrick Ward with Kansas City Allergy Asthma.
“Now that we have gained valuable experience with our peanut allergic population and established our infrastructure, we feel comfortable expanding the program,” said Ward.
Since first offering peanut desensitization, also known as OIT, or oral immunotherapy, Ward has helped six patients graduate from the program by slowly introducing them to peanut protein with increasing doses each week.
“They are still allergic, but are desensitized. We don’t know yet whether or not they will eventually become tolerant [not allergic],” said Ward.
One of those patients is 10-year old Sofia Valdez. Her mother previously had to worry about exposure to peanuts or even peanut dust, which could cause anaphylactic shock and lead to death.
“It is truly miraculous,” Christina Valdez said. “Now we are able to enjoy a wide range of restaurants.”
Peanut desensitization normally takes four to six months to complete, but Christina Valdez says her daughter needed 10 months to become desensitized to her peanut allergy because she struggled with anxiety.
“Both psychological and physiological challenges,” Christina Valdez said. “Not only are they slowly introducing a life-threatening allergen into their diet, but they have to overcome the anxiety that is associated with their food allergy.”
Her daughter Sofia will have to eat eight peanuts a day for the rest of her life to maintain her desensitization, just like the other patients who finish peanut desensitization therapy.
“All are doing well on their daily maintenance dose of eight peanuts. We have another seven patients in the build-up or escalation phase,” Ward said. “Not all patients are candidates for food desensitization, so an evaluation by an allergist is necessary.”
Those who are able to graduate experience new freedoms like attending birthday parties or flying on planes. Christina Valdez says the new freedom benefits the entire family as they plan to take Sofia to Orlando this summer on her first flight.
“We never flew on planes. There are no federal regulations prohibiting people from bringing nuts on a plane,” said Christina Valdez. “I was not willing to risk her going into anaphylactic shock on a plane.”
Patrick Fazio can be reached at [email protected] .
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