23 February 2011

Precise Dose for Peanut Allergy Treatment- Oral Immunotherapy

Now that Alexander's peanut allergy treatment has progressed he is having his peanut dose increased each week.

Date Dose     Amount     Frequency     Total Peanuts per 24 Hours
Jan 27          1 Peanut    Twice per day         2
Feb  3           2 Peanuts    Twice per day        4
Feb 10          3 Peanuts    Twice per day        6

Feb 17          4 Peanuts    Twice per day       8
Feb 24          5 Peanuts    Twice per day      10

I need to shell more peanuts
Why does Dr. Wasserman required to buy in-shell peanuts and shell them myself?
He is being cautious. Unfortunately, Alexander may be allergic to Almonds so we must avoid possible cross-contamination in processed peanuts.
Click here to see my post "Shucking Peanuts for Alexander's Big Day".  
Alexander's dosing amount is very precise! Each peanut must an an average size peanut. Not too big and not too small. 
To obtain an average sized peanut from an in-shell peanut is hard to accomplish. This morning my son requested I provide new peanuts because only large peanuts remain from the first batch I shelled.
We are so thankful that due to the peanut allergy immunotherapy treatment our son is able to actually Eat Peanuts safely! 
I will happily shell the peanuts for him.
As I set about the task again, I experience the same issue that occurred the last time I shelled peanuts. The first few peanuts split in half. I shell a few more and their size is too large.

In an odd sort of way I now have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde relationship with peanuts.
They scare me but I need them. Shelling these peanuts is like panning for gold. 
If a peanut pops out of the shell and falls into the sack of peanut shells then I have to sift through the shells and peanut debris to find the golden nugget, a whole peanut.

Once I dropped a perfect peanut specimen into the sink. Ugh! I thought about saving it. 
I wiped it off carefully but I came to my senses thinking "what has been in that sink?"
Yes, I tossed it into the trash.
So what is my shelling "success rate"? Curious, I decided to calculate the yield from my harvesting of the in-shell peanuts. Here are the details-
1) I shelled in batches of 10 in-shell peanuts. Each peanut containing 2 shelled peanuts for a total possible yield of 20 peanuts per batch.
2) I shelled 7 batches for a total possible yield of 140 peanuts.
3) My harvest averaged 7.28 peanuts that were perfectly whole and average in size 
out of 20. 
4) Rate of success in obtaining "perfect peanuts" only 36%.
At this rate I will be doing a lot of shelling.

I thought perhaps the quality of the in-shell peanuts I purchased was inferior in some way.
The shells are hard to crack, the peanut dust flies everywhere and the peanuts break apart.
At Dr. Wasserman's today I shared my story with another Mom of a peanut allergic child. She tried shelling peanuts. Same issues. Then she bought peanuts from a different source, Albertson's Grocery store in Dallas and the shelling experience was better.
So I will be heading to Albertson's.

After 2 hours of work my "Total Harvest" was only 88 Average Size Whole Peanuts
32 unusable Extra Large Peanuts and a Jar Full of Half Peanuts also not useable, or so I thought.

Alexander's dose was recently increased 4 Whole Peanuts per dose for a daily total of 8 Whole Peanuts.  The next dose will be 5 peanuts per dose or 10 total per day.
My peanut supply will not last long.
I have a plan to solve the challenge. I will conduct a science experiment to determine the average weight in grams of an average size shelled peanut.
Watch for that post. The results will save you a lot of time if you need to shell peanuts as part of a peanut allergy treatment program.

I am so thankful that Alexander's peanut allergy treatment is proceeding so well. 

22 February 2011

Low-Allergy Peanut Being Developed in United States

Here is a novel approach.  A low-allergy peanut is being developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Researchers are working to develop a new breed of peanut. The properties 900 different peanut strains of peanuts have been examined as part of the process. Whew
Good news. The new peanut is not genetically modified. It is produced through traditional cross-breeding.

Why develop this new low-allergy peanut?
Here is an excerpt from a Time Magazine article-

"Researchers are hopeful that a low allergy peanut could be incorporated into allergy treatment programs aimed at building patients' resistance, and could potentially help eliminate the cross-contamination issues on manufacturing production lines and during food preparation in restaurant kitchens."

Perhaps in a future generation growing up eating "low-allergy peanuts" we would see a reduced incidence of peanut allergy. Who knows?

For people already allergic to peanuts it seems logical that a low-allergy peanut might enable them to consume some low allergy peanut products without a reaction. 
I am not a scientist but these possibilities make common sense to me.

According to the Time article the target for public availability of a low-allergy peanut is 2-5 years. 
I think this is a great idea. I hope it is successful.

The peanut oral desensitization treatment our son Alexander is currently receiving for his peanut allergy is a real breakthrough for those allergic to peanuts.
Currently treatment is offered in only a handful places in the United States.
It is proceeding very well thus far. 

Alexander started treatment on December 12, 2010. He is now consuming 8 peanuts per day as his "dose". His dose increases each week. 
More details are available in other posts on my blog.

Click here to read my post "Peanut Allergy Treatment Day 1"

Click here to read Time Magazine article published in June 2010  "Designing a low-allergy peanut?"
Click here to read an article from BBC Health News on the low-allergy peanut