“Although it’s a long process in the end it’s great.”
We recently saw 10 year old James for an annual check up. James was one of the first children in our oral immunotherapy program when he started peanut OIT at age four. At the first visit his peanut level was quite high, but after completing the OIT program, it has decreased ten-fold and he is now able to eat 16 Peanut M&Ms at a time with no reaction. We asked his mother to share the family’s experience from the first diagnosis, through treatment, and to the present.
Can you tell us how you found out that your son James had a peanut allergy?
Of course. When James was 18 months old, I had a conversation with a friend who worked for an allergist. She told me that she had already introduced peanut butter to her son and explained that the younger you find out if your child has an allergy, the better. We decided to test James by putting a small drop of peanut butter on his skin. He immediately got a hive where the peanut butter touched him. I was devastated, knowing that this allergy would be lifelong and something we would have to worry about as a family.
How did you confirm the allergy and manage it before you heard about Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)?
We made an appointment with Dr. Ho, who did skin testing and confirmed that James had a severe peanut allergy. We practiced strict avoidance to peanuts and tree nuts and were always worried about cross-contamination. I didn’t serve James anything processed at home, and we were very careful when eating out. We also went to Dr. Ho’s office yearly to check if James’s allergies had improved, but they didn’t, so we continued avoiding peanuts and all nuts.
When did you first hear about OIT, and what made you decide to try it?
When Dr. Ho started offering OIT, my husband and I were immediately interested. We hadn’t heard of it before, but after learning about the process and what to expect, we felt confident in giving it a try.
How did you incorporate OIT into your daily routine, and how did James handle the treatment?
I made it a part of our daily routine by giving James his OIT dose every morning, along with his vitamins. We were very committed to the process. Although the treatment was long and sometimes waiting in the office for an hour after the dose was challenging, James didn’t have any issues eating the food. He loved the Bamba snack and looked forward to it. James says that “although the process was long, in the end it’s great!” He is involved with his food allergies and gets excited when he sees his numbers go down when tested.
How do you feel about the results of the OIT program, and do you recommend it to other parents dealing with allergies?
I am always talking to other parents at school with allergies, recommending the OIT program and Dr. Ho. I know a teenager who was traumatized by having an anaphylactic reaction, and I really try to encourage him and his parents to start OIT. I tell them that I know it works and have the proof with James’s allergy testing. I love Dr. Ho and hope he never retires. We wouldn’t have come this far without him and the program. I don’t worry about cross-contamination anymore, and I truly feel that the program saved James’s life.