May is National Food Allergy Awareness Month, and I’m pleased to be able to share some information about the incredible work SickKids is doing when it comes to research and care related to food allergies (which have seen a rise of over 18% in the last 15 years).
For approximately 300,000 Canadian children and their families, or one child in every classroom, constant anxiety and stress over the possibility of a deadly allergic reaction is a reality of everyday life. With your support, SickKids believes they can cure allergy in the next decade.
Now, more than ever before, researchers are poised on the cusp of major breakthroughs in allergy research and have the tools at their disposal to develop a cure for allergy. Within the next decade, the Allergy Program at SickKids will drive transformation in children’s health to eliminate the health challenges and emotional burden posed by the threat of allergic reaction.
· Exploring ways to turn anaphylaxis into a non-fatal reaction via oral treatment (i.e. pill)
· Looking at a type of immune cell that can control allergic responses
· Investigating the ability to predict which children will be able to tolerate allergenic food if it is prepared differently
· Working to predict, at birth, a predisposition to allergy and seeking to modify or eliminate allergic response through genetic or drug interventions
o Food challenges are conducted at SickKids to expose children to increasing amounts of the very food they are allergic to, with the goal of desensitizing their immune system
o For example, it’s been shown that some children who are allergic to milk and eggs can eat them in baked form
o The right diagnosis is extremely important, and we work to ensure children are correctly labelled. Removing the “allergy” label for those who have been misdiagnosed can be transformative for the family.
· There has been an increased realization and appreciation that allergies do not only affect the child who is diagnosed, but their family, friends, classroom, and community
· Answers to common questions: Will my child outgrow their allergy? Can I prevent an allergy in my next child? What should my child eat at school lunches or birthday parties?
· Advice on current allergy literature, including recently released guidelines and recommendations on early intervention and treatment
As a teacher, I see students every day who are struggling with food allergies. I can’t even imagine how life-changing it would be if they could be eliminated. Good work, SickKids!