Dallas Family Says Drug For Peanut Allergies Offers Peace Of Mind

Families of children with severe peanut allergies are eagerly awaiting approval of a new drug that could change their lives.

The treatment involves giving a small amount of peanut protein that builds up a child's tolerance to peanuts over time, protecting them against a severe reaction to accidental exposure.

One family of a Dallas child who took part in the drug trial says it's given them peace of mind.

10 year-old Charlie Heald has learned that he must always be aware of the food around him because of what can happen if he's exposed to peanuts.

"My stomach starts to get red and there are a bunch of hives and it gets really itchy. I get really tired and my throat hurts," said Charlie.

Exposure can cause anaphylaxis, of which symptoms include a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and shock.

If not treated right away, usually with epinephrine, it can result in unconsciousness or death.

His mother, Cathy, discovered the peanut allergy when Charlie was 11-months-old.

"We gave him a peanut butter sandwich, cut up in tiny little squares on his high chair tray. He took one bite and his face immediately was swollen and covered in hives," said Cathy.

Now the very thing that can send Charlie into anaphylaxis is what he eats every day.

For almost a year, Charlie has been eating a daily dose of a special peanut flour that desentizes children to small amounts of peanuts.

He's part of the trial performed by California company Aimmune Therapies, which reported that of nearly 500 children studied, 67% were able to tolerate exposure to two peanuts, compared to just 4% who received a placebo.

The treatment won't build enough immunity for Charlie to eat peanuts or peanut butter, but it will prevent a serious allergic reaction if he unknowingly eats or is exposed to a peanut product.

"We know that he would be protected and that is truly confidence building.  It's just such a wonderful feeling to know that he has this protection in his body, that he has built up a certain amount of immunity and that he has that freedom when he eats," says Cathy.

Charlie is excited for future with possibilities, rather than a future with fear of what's hidden inside every bite.

"My sister always tells me how much I would love peanut butter," said Charlie. "Maybe in the future, they can make medicine that can help you handle bigger amounts."

One in thirteen children has a peanut allergy.

Aimmune Therapies plans to seek FDA approval later this year.

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