Peanut Allergy Immunotherapy Has Arrived

Food Allergy Sublingual Therapy
It seems fitting that my 500th Food Allergy Assistant post is one of hope and anticipation.

The letter was addressed "To the parents of...". The return label was from the allergist's office. The envelope was thick and indeed contained the long-awaited announcement.

"Our office has begun peanut sublingual immunotherapy. Do you want to participate?"

Well, yes...but. It turns out we have lots of questions and some logistics to figure out. The office requires a commitment of a two hour appointment every two weeks. Between appointments, we administer the serum at home. There can be no eating for 15 minutes before serum is given and then no eating for 30 minutes after.

It's a lot to ask of a kid.

And then there's the cost. I've seen figures upwards to $3000. Some insurance companies cover it, others don't. It appears that the serum is currently not covered.

We're being offered sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT. This is the process of placing a food extract under the tongue. This is not to be confused with oral immunotherapy (OIT), which is also being actively studied. OIT means increasing amounts of allergenic foods are fed to an allergic individual. This method had a high level of anaphylactic reactions in the past. According to the information we were given, less than 1% of individuals participating in SLIT have experienced allergic reactions.

The next step for me is a little more research, a call to the insurance company and a call to the allergist's office with our questions. I am cautiously excited and will keep you posted on our decision and progress.


liseetsa said...

Hi there. I see that you are interested in OIT and in the process of gathering more information. I would like to invite you to join our facebook group dedicated to OIT and the private doctors and resarchers who offer treatment.

You mention that OIT has had a high occurance of anaphylaxis in the past. And I would like to help clarify that for you or tag one of the doctors in the group to share data. One thing you might be referring to is the initial studies (Duke/Arkansas) when they purposely created reactions by rushing the patients up to 50mgs. or more, if they made it that far, to see how severe a reaction they had and log their tolerance level before having a reaction. There were only 2 out of 300 I believe. Dr. Mayer has an incredible list of OIT publications that I have not had time to read yet but I bet that study is included.

There is a risk of anaphylaxis of course but I have yet to hear of one anaphylactic reaction during private practice OIT and we have almost 700 members from all offices in our group. I know of two anaphylactic reactions that occurred outside the offices, one due to menses, another unknown exposure.

My own son sailed through treatment and has never had a reaction since the beginning. Thank goodness!!!

I would like to help you get the information you seek from the actual doctors who offer treatment if you are interested.

See us at

Thank you and good luck!
liseetsa mann

Jennifer B said...

Wow! This is a big decision. It's exciting and so many other things too. I had hoped my son could have participated in the OIT studies in Boston but he was not able to due to his history of allergic reactions. Please keep us posted!

Food Allergy Assistant said...

Thanks Liseetsa. I'll check out the FB group.

Gratefulfoodie said...

Thanks for participating in today's Living with Food Allergies Blog Carnival!

I'm going to need to keep me updated on this process...we are all interested now!

Thanks again.