Boy With Severe Allergy Eats Peanuts Safely, Thanks to Amazing New Treatment

Jackson Smith peanut allergy cure
Sarah Wynia Smith/Facebook

It's the kind of status update parents of kids with food allergies -- especially peanut allergies -- dream of posting. An Illinois mom has secured viral status with photos of her once seriously allergic son after eating not one, not two, not even three, but 24 peanuts! As Sarah Wynia Smith crowed in her Facebook post, "He scarfed down two handfuls of his allergen. And he liked it!"

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peanut allergy
Sarah Wynia Smith/Facebook

Smith is careful not to call this a cure, but she is not afraid to shout from the rooftops about son Jackson's success with what she dubs an "up-and-coming food allergy desensitization treatment program" called oral immunotherapy. In laymen's terms, that means Smith's son spent months eating small but increasing amounts of peanuts, carefully watched by doctors as they slowly exposed him to the very thing that previously sent the little guy into anaphylactic shock. 

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Like an estimated 15 million Americans, Jackson has a food allergy, but his is particularly severe ... and has affected everything about his life. 

As his mom explains on Facebook, "I felt trapped and terrified almost constantly. He too was starting to get anxious about food that wasn't safe. Any food with a trace of peanut in it could have literally killed him. This led to our family avoiding not only restaurants that served anything with peanuts (I know how 'careful' food service is about cross-contamination), but things like baseball games, birthday parties, wedding cakes, potlucks. It was all just too anxiety-provoking for the benefits to outweigh the negatives to attending such things. It was very socially isolating in a way that I never truly appreciated until managing a food allergy."

These days, that weight is lifted off the Smith family, and immunotherapy like Jackson's is making major changes for a lot of other families too. 

On study supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences found that as many as 80 percent of kids with peanut allergies were able to incorporate peanut-containing foods into their diets after receiving peanut oral immunotherapy. And doctors have even developed a peanut patch to help expose kids little by little. 

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It's not easy to have a kid with food allergies. There are the parents who throw up their arms and think their kid's right to a PB&J is more important than another child's right to a safe classroom. And then there are the unwitting kids who pass on an allergen because they just don't know any better. An estimated 40 percent of kids with food allergies have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, according to the Food Allergy Research & Education nonprofit.

That's why stories like Jackson's are so important. They show that there is hope for kids like him, hope that one day they can go out and do what their peers do without fearing someone is eating some Reese's Pieces that could threaten their life. 

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