7 Healthcast: Food allergies
Kiersten Wood, 11, of Manchester-by-the-Sea developed severe food allergies when she was very young.
“We found out Kiersten had food allergies when she was a baby…she had eczema head to toe. Then she had a peanut butter cracker when she was about a year and a half and she blew up beyond recognition and that’s when we had to go see a specialist,” said Marleen Wood, Kiersten's Mom.
For Kiersten, it's a daily concern.
“At first I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I got used to it,” said Kiersten Wood.
And Kiersten's condition is something the whole family had to get used too.
“Food shopping takes a bit of time. We have to read ingredients on everything because even if a box of cereal is nut free today, next week they could be manufacturing it with a different recipe, or on different equipment, so I really have to double-check absolutely everything that I buy,” said Marleen.
Kiersten isn't alone. More than 15 million American’s suffer from food allergies.
“The latest numbers from the CDC suggest a frequency of 1 in 25 people in the U.S. have an immediate type of food allergy,” said Dr. Wayne Shreffler, Director of Food Allergy Center at MGH.
Doctors at the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital are looking for answers.
“We're really excited about the possibility of new treatments that can protect people from accidental reactions and hopefully someday lead to complete cures,” said Shreffler.
They are currently conducting oral immunotherapy on children like Kiersten to determine allergy sensitivity.
Their goal is to help create a tolerance so that people with food allergies can eventually have the food they are allergic too without having a major reaction.
“I am really optimistic that in the next 5 to 10 years there will be more treatments available for people more broadly,” said Shreffler.
That’s good news for Kiersten and her family.
“Oh that would be wonderful. Hallelujah,” said Marleen. “We always hold onto hope that it will get better for her.”
(Copyright (c) 2011 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)