For food allergy mom Stephanie Sorkin, the decision to involve her 10-year-old Mallory, who has multiple food allergies, in oral immunotherapy came after her daughter had an allergic reaction on an ice cream outing.
It was Mallory’s first night back from being away at an allergy-aware camp and the ice cream was purchased at the family’s go-to shop in Long Island, New York.
“My daughter had spent weeks at camp, reaction-free and within a few hours with me, her mom, her protector, her biggest advocate, had a reaction to what we believe was egg exposure,” recalls Sorkin. “How dumb I felt. The guilt.”
Sorkin decided enough was enough and – despite the fact that it’s still a therapy under study – she decided to look into an oral immunotherapy protocol being offered by a local allergist.
In OIT, a patient consumes a minuscule then gradually increasing amount of an allergen until a daily maintenance dose level is reached.
“I would have walked there barefoot if it meant my daughter would be safe,” says Sorkin of her decision ultimately to have Mallory undergo the treatment.
She’s not alone in the reasons driving her decision. A recent study of 369 parents of allergic children finds two-thirds of them expressing fear of a child having an allergic reaction. Despite that fear, 92 percent of the parents would or may be interested in enrolling their child in an OIT clinical trial – which does require increasing exposure to an allergen. As well, 70 percent thought their child (or children) would be interested in the treatment.
The study, led by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, also indicated the impact of life with food allergies.
Two-thirds of the parents, who were speaking about 420 children, felt a child’s food allergy affected their own daily lives “very much” or “extremely.”
“Their willingness to participate in a clinical trial that would expose the child to the allergen demonstrates how urgently these families desire new therapies for food allergies,” Gupta said in a press release.
Sorkin says her daughter, who has now graduated from eating egg powder in food to a designated, daily amount of whole egg has a “long road ahead.” But she says, “it feels incredible to be on such a road, rather than facing what often felt like a brick wall.”
Parents and allergic individuals need to be aware that OIT can sometimes have gastrointestinal and other side effects, and the treatment does not work for all allergic individuals. The FDA has yet to approve the therapy, but the company behind a large-scale trial of a specific OIT treatment for peanut succeeded at the Phase 3 level in February 2018. There are plans to apply for its approval as a drug treatment by the end of 2018.
The study was published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Get more news from Allergic Living to your inbox.