ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) — Food allergies are a big challenge for children and families. The peanut is the third most common food people are allergic to. A recent study in The Lancent said giving kids small amounts of peanuts might not be as effective as first discovered and could increase risk of an allergic reaction. But 7 Eyewitness News Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley found an Orchard Park family who has overcome several food allergies with the treatment.
Nine-year-old Dominic and seven-year-old Andrew Doerr of Orchard Park are helping their mother Renata prepare a dinner salad. Both children started experiencing food allergies as babies. Both allergic to peanuts. Andrew also reacted to sesame and cashews. Dominic had allergies to milk and eggs.
"I would have like itch and with an itchy throat, then i would have hives getting itchy – and then like i would already have my Epi-pen," explained Doerr.
Both boys started traveling to Cleveland last year for Oral Immunotherapy Treatment known as OIT. They are given incremental doses of foods they are sensitive to. There are more than one and a half-million children in the U.S. who suffer from a peanut allergy. O-I-T helps some children become less sensitive to peanuts.
In Western New York, we spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Rockoff, an allergist and immunologist, of Allergy/Immunology in the Town of Tonawanda, who has been conducting OIT for both children and some adults with an 80-percent success rate.
"The original intent of the studies was to make the patient less anaphylaxis. So the patients could tolerate a small amount and not end up with a shot of Epi or potentially dying from a reaction," explained Dr. Rockoff.
You should never try it at home. It is very dangerous. Dr. Rockoff conducts this process in a very controlled environment - constantly monitoring the patient for four to six hours.
"And once they become tolerant of the food – they're not at risk of developing severe anaphylaxis – like they were prior. "it's not for everybody – it's a difficult program. There's potential side-effects and allergic reactions – that's why we do it here in the office – we monitor our patients really closely – we follow a very strict protocol," Dr. Rockoff stated.
OIT has been very successful for the Doerr brothers. They're no longer dealing with sensitivity or experiencing anaphylasis.
"Now seeing him, after finishing the milk OIT– drinking six ounces of milk every morning and being able to eat pizza and have ice cream – it's you know – nothing short of a miracle for us. You know i feel like our boys are just so much safer," remarked Renata Doerr.
Dr. Rockoff said children with any sensitivity to peanuts can only start OIT at the age of four.
Both Doerr boys can now eat items that once made them ill - however - they still hang on to their Epi-pens just in case.
"I had my first piece of pizza a couple of weeks ago," declared Dominic Doerr.
The Doeer family has also found support with the Greater Buffalo Food Allergy Alliance. Click here for the website.