Friday, March 9th, 2012
Does your child have a life-threatening food allergy? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are aiming to make it much less serious–and, ideally, eradicate it. They’re currently testing whether “sublingual therapy,” in which tiny amounts of the allergenic substance–such as milk–are placed under the patient’s tongue, could desensitize the body enough to allow it to move on to “oral immunotherapy,” in which the patient swallows small amounts of the substance.
According to CNN.com, “The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.” In fact 20 percent of the kids that the researchers work with have “significant reactions during the treatment that make the therapy unfeasible.”
Mason does not appear to have any serious food allergies, but the thought of him being exposed to a substance to which he had a life-threatening allergy, even in a controlled setting like a doctor’s office, terrifies me. I’m not so sure that I’d be willing to allow him to try the treatment, even if it were to be proven safe, because too many “what ifs” would be running through my mind.
But maybe that makes me a selfish parent? Or perhaps just a parent that doesn’t really know what it’s like to have a child with a dangerous food allergy.
After all, there’s tremendous value to desensitizing your child to a food that he or she is dangerously allergic to–you wouldn’t have to worry that her next bite of food would kill her. A peanut butter cookie or Cheerio would be just a tasty snack. An ice cream cone on a hot day would be a sweet way to cool off, not a scary risk. Cake with egg in it would be a treat, not a threat.
What do you think? Would you let your child try this treatment if it were to be proven safe?
Photo: Child eating ice cream via Monkey Business Images /Shutterstock