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kids with food allergies

Food Allergy ALERT! 4 Things Parents Need to Know About Emerging Treatments

There are so many things your child could be allergic to, from insect bites to pollen. But learning how to function in the world when you have kids with food allergies is tricky and downright terrifying at times. The public health burden of food allergies among children in the United States continues to grow and is an area of active research.

The current estimate is 7.6% of children in the country live with food allergies – about 1 in every 13 children.

Because food is a fundamental part of many daily activities and social events, families living with a child who has food allergies must be constantly vigilant to keep the child safe. The fear of anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction) can take a heavy toll on children and their caregivers.

Knowledge is Power

As a pediatrician, I believe all parents, whether you have a child with food allergies living in your home or not, should be familiar with this topic. So today, I want to focus on bringing you the most up-to-date information on promising new food allergy research and available treatments, particularly for peanut allergies. I’ll share a few insights from a new survey of parents about living with food allergies, along with a look at new, emerging treatments for kids with peanut allergies. 

Kids With Food Allergies Resources and Research

Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the largest online support community for food allergies. It offers practical, evidence-based education to help parents understand food allergies. In addition, it gives parents a safe, private place to connect with one another, ask questions, share recipes, ask questions for an allergist to answer, and learn about the latest news, research, and clinical trials.

The Research

Kids With Food Allergies recently conducted a significant study with patient reported outcomes from more than 3,000 patients and caregivers called “My Life With Food Allergies.”

The results show that food allergies present a higher burden to caregivers than to patients with food allergies themselves. 

These findings were presented to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) – a watchdog group who recently assessed the clinical effectiveness and value of treatments for peanut allergy. As a result of the parent voice shared through the online survey, AAFA was able to present evidence to ICER about quality-of-life issues impacting families with peanut allergies. 

This important research really matters. That is to say YOUR VOICE MATTERS. Join the KFA community to lend your voice to future food allergy research and reporting.

The Resources

The KFA is constantly working with families and researchers to develop new and emerging treatment options. In addition to information on new research, KFA also offers a FREE online course that addresses the following topics:

  • How doctors diagnose food allergies
  • Different types of food allergies
  • What anaphylaxis is, how to react, and how to avoid it
  • How to find safe foods
  • How to handle food allergies outside the home

4 Things You NEED to Know About Emerging Treatments

1. What is the current treatment for food allergy?

The current standard of care for food allergy is strict avoidance of food allergens and timely administration of epinephrine in the event of a severe allergic reaction. In other words, avoid the food you are allergic to, and be prepared to use life-saving medication if an allergic reaction does occur.

There is currently no approved treatment for food allergies. Rather, there is only an emergency medicine (epinephrine) approved for treatment of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) that occur as a result of a food allergy. 

However, recent advances in research have significantly improved our understanding of food allergies. These new studies are paving the way for new treatment options.

2. What is Immunotherapy?

The FDA is currently evaluating immunotherapy as one emerging treatment option for kids with food allergies.

Immunotherapy is a process of gradually introducing an allergen until the body’s immune system becomes desensitized to it. So the ultimate goal of immunotherapy is to protect against accidental exposure and reduce the risk of life-threatening allergic reactions.

However, it is not clear at this time whether immunotherapy may need to be continued indefinitely to maintain desensitization. 

3. What are the types of immunotherapy?

The FDA is currently reviewing two types of immunotherapy for the treatment of specific food allergies:

  • Oral immunotherapy (OIT) – swallowing the allergen
  • Epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) – a dermal patch containing the allergen on the skin

4. Is immunotherapy a cure?

At this time, no. We just don’t have enough data to know the long-term effects of immunotherapy. Also, we don’t have enough data on what happens if you stop immunotherapy after a certain period of time. 

Studies show that immunotherapy may have more lasting effects on the immune system if started at an early age. But we still have a lot of unanswered questions: How long do you have to stay on immunotherapy? And how long-lasting are the effects of immunotherapy? 

Final Thoughts on Kids With Food Allergies

While raising a child with food allergies can be difficult and often scary, the KFA and AAFA are trying to ease parents’ minds with invaluable information and resources. So join the community today to take full advantage of all the excellent research they have to offer.

Dr. Katie

Check out our Facebook LIVE with CEO of AAFA for more information!

We are proud to partner with Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) to bring you the most up-to-date information on food allergy treatments for children. While KFA has sponsored this post, all opinions are 100% our own.

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