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New treatment helping sufferers battling peanut allergies

New treatment helping sufferers battling peanut allergies

Having a child who's allergic to peanuts doesn't just limit food choices, it often affects school and family activities.

He looks like just another kid having a snack, but the walnuts Mason Tops is eating now put him in the emergency room last July.

"You go through life up to that day, knowing that it could kill him and he knew that. That this was so significant of an allergy that it could really really hurt him," his mom Amy Topa said.

Amy is talking about Mason's nut allergies, and the family's life before oral immunotherapy, or OIT.

It's a treatment they started last April with Dr. Stephen Kimura.

"It's sort of the same principle as allergy injections, or allergy immunotherapy, where we are giving tiny amounts of pollen or dust mites or mold in allergy shots," explained Dr. Kimura.

Patients begin with tiny amounts of the nut protein dissolved in juice. The dose is slowly increased while patients are monitored in the controlled office environment.

The treatment continues at home. Over weeks and months, Mason worked up to his first whole peanut, and eventually a handful.

"Some offices are totally against it. They feel the risks are not worth the rewards, the risk of reaction is too high, or just the time-consuming aspect of it," Dr. Kimura said.

Dr. Kimura said they're seeing an 80 to 90 percent success rate with families that follow the guidelines.

Mason recently made his first trip to Five Guys, one of the many places he couldn't go before for fear of reacting to peanuts.

Amy wants families to know about OIT so they can make their own informed decisions.

"This process has allowed us to give him that freedom and not just keep him in the bubble," she said.