Sometimes, Ellis Glover would be forced to leave her friends and sit at a lunch table where no one was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“I wanted to sit with my good, good friends, but I couldn’t,” the 10-year-old said. “If you’re a kid and you have a food allergy, it’s harder on you. You’re missing out on a lot of stuff other children can have. I always want to try peanut stuff.”
Mom Monica Glover said the family discovered Ellis’ peanut allergy when she was about 3. The tipoff: a skin reaction around her mouth after she was given food with a small amount of peanuts in it. “We were lucky to have discovered it that way. That was a mild reaction,” Glover said, and a doctor confirmed the allergy through tests.
The discovery was “distressing,” Glover said. Accidental exposure to peanuts has happened, resulting in “severe stomach cramps and vomiting,” she said. “Essentially, we have to live in fear all the time of Ellis being inadvertently exposed to peanuts and having a reaction that is potentially life-threatening.”
Glover seized the opportunity to participate in a study on the safety and effectiveness of an experimental treatment that could give her daughter protection against accidental exposure to peanuts. Despite the risk, it was “a gift,” she said, adding that her family hoped their efforts might help “lots of other children.”
The risk paid off: Two-thirds of the kids in the study were able to eat the equivalent of two peanuts without any symptoms after following the months-long experimental treatment regimen, the researchers found.
Ellis is one of the majorities of children for whom the treatment works. “It’s been a huge success,” her mother said.
The study results, published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Annual Scientific Meeting, prove that the treatment can protect some children against accidental exposure to or ingestion of a very small amount of peanuts or peanut products.