Food allergy is a common condition affecting approximately 8% of children in the United States.
Allergic reactions that occur as a result of food allergy can be dangerous and even life-threatening. For this reason, children with food allergies must avoid the food to which they are allergic. This can result in fear of going to school, avoiding social situations such as eating in restaurants and going to parties, and can have an adverse effect on the mental well-being of children (many children with food allergies are bullied at school, have to eat lunch in special areas, and often are not allowed to attend “sleep-over parties” for fear of allergic reactions). In some situations, food allergies in children can even affect nutritional status as a result of having to follow a limited diet. The most common food allergies in children include milk, egg, peanut, wheat, soy, tree nuts and seafood.
Until recently, the only treatment for food allergy was strict avoidance of the offending food(s). Some food allergies (such as milk, egg, soy and wheat) might go away as the child gets older, while other food allergies (nuts and seafood) can last a lifetime. Recently, a treatment for food allergy has become more popular and widespread, called food oral immunotherapy (OIT). Food OIT has been shown to be successful in "curing" food allergies in up to 80% of children.
Central Coast Allergy & Asthma is one of select clinics in the nation to offer oral immunotherapy (OIT) to foods. Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) is a new treatment for food allergies in children. Our individually designed program provides a long-term solution for wheat, egg, peanut, tree nut, and milk allergic patients. Our program typically lasts about 9 to 12 months. At the end of the program, most patients with allergies to wheat, egg, peanut, tree nut, or milk are able to consume these foods with no allergic reaction.
Central Coast Allergy & Asthma’s Food Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) Program works by introducing minute amounts of the food and then very slowly, under close observation, increasing over months the amount of food the child can tolerate. The ultimate goal is for the child to be able to eat unlimited amounts of the food without any allergic reaction or worry. Majority of children who have completed our program are able to consume wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and/or milk without any adverse reactions.
What to expect from our food allergy program:
The initial evaluation will include a detailed history and physical exam and may involve a combination of skin prick testing and/or blood testing to fully define the food allergy. Depending on our findings we may recommend a food oral challenge at a subsequent visit to ensure that the food allergy has not been outgrown.
The first visit of the oral immunotherapy process is a full day (up to 5 hours), during which the child will receive multiple doses of very small amounts of diluted milk, wheat, peanut, tree nut, or egg. The child will return every one to two weeks at which time we will reassess the child’s progress and typically increase the dose of the food. The child will then be observed for 45-60 minutes afterwards for any reaction. Between each visit the patient will take one dose of the (allergenic) food each day at home. Once oral immunotherapy is complete, the previously allergenic food can be freely included in the diet. The food still must be eaten daily to maintain the ability to eat it safely.
We recommend calling our office to schedule a visit with one of our providers to discuss if Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) is right for you or your child. At the visit we can review the success, failure, and possible adverse outcomes of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT). We also can discuss anxieties/fears involved with considering OIT.