by: John Knicely Updated:
SEATTLE - You have a new resource in Seattle that is tackling the growing problem of food allergies. The Seattle Food Allergy Consortium is pooling local experts and their work will directly impact individual families.
Children are the main driver behind food allergies doubling in the population over the last 15 years. Now about 1 percent of U.S. children have peanut allergies by age 5.
Laura Hauswald's two sons have been lucky, but she's seen it in her Eckstein Middle School students.
“You know that every year you're going to have a handful of students,” said Hauswald. “You have to be careful even from other students that peanuts don't come into the classroom.”
“The bad thing is we've known about this growing problem,” said Dr. William Henderson, head of UW Food Allergy training. “But we really have no effective prevention for it other than avoidance.”
SeaFAC consists of research partners from Virginia Mason Medical Center, Benaroya Research Institute, Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center, UW Medicine, Asthma Inc. and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“Each of us have our strengths,” said Henderson. “But we don't have it all together with regard to food allergies. So we figured we'd pool our resources.”
In the next six months SeaFAC will open a new controlled testing environment where people with allergies can go to get tested with the food they're allergic to. Doctors will be there to study their reaction and deal with that reaction no matter how severe it is.
At seafac.org you can sign up for the first come, first serve testing. Off the main page, click “Get Involved.” And that takes you to a page where you can register as a patient.
Another trial involves giving people with peanut allergies a patch of peanut protein per day. So far the study is finding it increases their tolerance. SeaFAC is planning similar trials with shellfish and milk allergies soon.
“It has to be something in a structured environment,” said Henderson. “It's not something anyone should do at home.”