On Sept. 21, 2009, Bo had his long awaited peanut food challenge to determine the effectiveness of his peanut allergy desensitization treatment at Arkansas Childrens Hospital in Little Rock. As most of our readers know by now, Bo has been in the peanut allergy treatment study for over two years (turns out year one he was getting placebo). A few months ago he had reached the maximum daily treatment dosage levels for his study that requires him to eat a small bag of peanut butter M&Ms every day.
The purpose of the food challenge after one year of daily peanut ingestion desensitization treatment is two fold.
- The double blind food challenge takes a total of about 4 hours to complete and involves eating incremental amounts of mix A and mix B, one of which is secretly a placebo. The food challenge is stopped immediately upon any signs of an allergic reaction. The subject is observed in the hospital environment as they first eat the increasing doses of mix A over a short period, looking for any signs of an allergic reaction. After finishing the maximum dose of mix A, then the food challenge is repeated with mix B. Afterwards, it is revealed which food mix was placebo and which was peanut. This methodology ensures the subject does not have subjective "false" reactions based on emotions, such as, reporting tingling lips if they know they are eating peanut.
- The max dose given in the food challenge is 25% more than the subject's current daily peanut dosage. If no allergic reaction is observed after the final max dosage of the peanut mix, the subject knows they have a 25% higher tolerance "safety net" than their daily doseage levels.
Bo passed the peanut food challenge with flying colors, no allergic reaction what so ever and his skin test that morning showed visible signs of his increasing desensitization to the various dilutions of peanut compared to his results when he began the study!
Note: While life for Bo and his parents is definitely getting closer to normal due to his peanut allergy treatment success (like having more flexibility with restaurant options and birthday cakes/ice cream), as long as peanuts are not an actual ingredient, we still avoid foods labeled as "may contain peanuts or tree nuts" or have peanuts listed as an ingredient as a common sense precaution.
Bo will continue eating his daily peanut dose and will participate in quarterly blood tests and skin tests so that his long term peanut allergy desensitization results can be tracked.
Thank you all so much for your many prayers and kind e-mails. We pray that all people dealing with food allergies soon have the option to participate in food allergy desensitization treatments if they want to and one day for the preventive cure to end the fear, anxiety and suffering caused by life-threatening food allergies!