UNC study shows potential to develop active treatment for food allergies
Updated: 07/30/2012 10:19 AM
By: Claudine Chalfant
An exciting breakthrough in food allergies could allow children to expand their menus in the future.
A study at UNC hospitals shows potential for developing an active treatment for food allergy. Dr. Wesley Burks says they treat children by giving extremely small doses of egg, milk, or whatever the allergy may be, then increase that dose over time. After treatment, kids are able to eat up.
"This is the biggest study and the best one so far that shows we really can develop a treatment... that it will come,” said Dr. Burks, chairman of the UNC Department of Pediatrics. “It's just a matter of when and what it might look like. It's still a few years away but we're getting there. we're much closer than we were."
The study is a positive step for further development in the future.
After Ryan Birchfield reacted to baby formula at two months old, his mom rushed him to the hospital. This incident started the process of discovering Ryan's egg, milk, and peanut allergies. Colene says the toughest part about food allergies is reading labels.
"You don't always anticipate the change, so just because you become used to being able to eat a certain food, that particular brand or type of food can change anytime. So you have to stay on top of it and always read, even though you've read it a hundred times before to make sure nothing has changed cause that change can kill you," said Colene Birchfield, Ryan's mother.
Colene did everything to protect her son's life. After hearing about the study at UNC, she signed up right away.
It's changed their lives. Ryan, now 11 year's old, is able to eat eggs and milk products. The peanut study is up next.
"I don't even know if I like peanuts yet,” Ryan said. “After my milk allergy, turns out I don't like milk. After my egg study, it turns out I like eggs.”
Ryan is excited, though. There could be a lot of peanut butter jelly sandwiches in his future.
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