Oral immunotherapy – OIT – can make kiddos with food allergy like peanut allergy more tolerant of the allergen, but does that tolerance translate into the real world, like when eating at a restaurant?
The short answer: yes.
What is OIT?
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a treatment for food allergy. If your kiddo undergoes OIT, the procedure looks like this (in short!): your kiddo will ingest increasing amounts of his or her allergen, once per day, every day, over months to years. This builds immune tolerance. Read about tolerance here.
Of course, OIT should only be performed under the strict supervision and guidance of your allergist. Read more about OIT and early peanut OIT on my previous posts.
So if your kiddo has food allergy, will OIT help, and what does that have to do with eating out at a restaurant? Well, first, I will say that OIT is not for everyone. Every family is different, and every kiddo with food allergy has a different story with different clinical, social, emotional, and, yes, financial situations.
Is OIT for everyone with food allergy?
Actually, can I camp here for a moment? Okay, regarding what I just wrote about every kiddo having a unique situation… that’s so true. Kiddos at certain ages may not be in the right stage of maturity for OIT, or maybe it’s baseball season so OIT just won’t work with the schedule right now. And regarding finances: even if insurance pays for appointments, a parent still has to take off work to go to those appointments, which can mean a smaller paycheck. But if that is your situation, talk with your allergist about ways to work with your schedule. Most allergists want to make this work because it can be a very helpful therapy!
Is OIT helpful to a kiddo with food allergy when it comes to eating out at a restaurant? Likely, yes.
Okay, so back to how OIT can help kiddos with peanut allergy be safer while eating out. OIT increases the threshold at which a kiddo will have an allergic reaction. This means that a kiddo’s eliciting dose, which is the dose that causes reaction, would be higher. Translation: it takes more peanut to cause a reaction than before OIT.
In the article I discuss in this podcast, the authors discuss how they simulated the possibility of peanut unintentionally getting into what should be a peanut-free dish. Simulating cleaning (or not cleaning – eww) methods, they specify the amount of peanut protein that is likely to contaminate a peanut-free dish. Those amounts of peanut are relevant to the amounts of peanut we try to make the immune system tolerate through OIT and other forms of immunotherapy. Interesting article.
And it has pictures. Yessss.
Check out the article here.
What’s your question on food allergy? On eating out safely at restaurants? On OIT?
Do you have a question about food allergy, how to eat safely away from home, or OIT? Would you like your question answered on the blog+podcast? Submit it here!
Additional Show Notes
I have talked about a non-profit…
The non-profit is The Teal Schoolhouse, whose primary program is Code Ana. Code Ana equips schools for medical emergencies like anaphylaxis. Our primary program is the Code Ana School Program, which is a comprehensive approach to school-focused medical preparedness. This program guides schools through the process of creating a medical emergency response plan. This is one of the most important components of a school’s food allergy policy!
A medical emergency response plan is important for all kiddos and for adults at any school! Our primary goal is to share the School Program, and Code Ana’s Online Epinephrine Training Program helps support that goal. Through this program, you will educate yourself while you support this important mission! (BTW although Pam and I serve in leadership roles of Code Ana and The Teal Schoolhouse, our time/effort/work is completely voluntary).
So… does your kiddo’s school have Code Ana?