“You cannot go to Food courts, even walking through them will expose him to risks. Also avoid indoor restaurants where eggs are on the menu.”
This was our allergist instructions to help Corey’s severe egg allergy diagnosis back in 2016. His egg allergy was airborne so if the smell of eggs was in the air, he would react. His was one of the most severe cases and his chances of outgrowing are slimmer than those with milder symptoms.
Eating a simple food that most take for granted became a daily challenge for us
Those beginning days were dark and grim. As time passed, the realisation hit home just how difficult it was to fully avoid eggs. A simple thing like wanting to buy a bun from a bakery became an arduous task of asking about ingredients and cross contamination risks. Relatives would give us disapproving frowns when we say that we would not be attending Chinese New Year dinners.
“Why cannot come? Last time I also allergic to prawns, eat already mouth and throat get a bit itchy that’s all. Just eat a bit, won’t die one la!”
When I tell people his allergy is airborne, others respond with incredulous disbelieving looks that said ‘are you dreaming?’.
Yes, I too wished I was dreaming and could wake up from this nightmare. The social isolation in those early days was depressing.
Learning to embrace the storm and dance in the rain
Over time, I’ve learnt how to avoid eggs to keep him safe and comfortable. It wasn’t an easy process to say the least. It took me a whole year to overhaul my kitchen of his allergens. Our family has become vegans by circumstance to be supportive of his plight. I’ve had to learn to cook everything from scratch, learnt to advocate for him in an encouraging manner. I learnt how to bring together this allergic community so that we can look out for one other.
Here are some of the egg free, dairy, peanut and nut free foods we have learnt to make over the years
Stress of accidental exposure is there every single moment he is out of my care.
But what about when he’s in the care of others like school teachers? What if he randomly tries another toddler’s biscuit out of curiosity? These worries lurk in the deepest depths of my mind as I make a conscious effort daily to weigh the pros and cons of how to keep him safe versus letting him have a normal childhood.
Accidental allergic reactions in school:
My cup is always half full: Singapore National University Hospital PEAT Egg Allergy Trial
Despite these challenges, I continue to stay hopeful that he will outgrow his food allergies. Even if he doesn’t outgrow, there are new treatment options like oral immunotherapy programs being trialed and developed as I type this.
One such program ongoing now is from our very own Singapore National University Hospital. Launched in November 2019, this egg oral immunotherapy study aims to create a treatment that will hopefully increase long term desensitization to egg allergens for those with egg allergy. The unique part of this trial includes taking a probiotic together with the egg oral immunotherapy. It will study whether this unique combination might provide any additional protection against egg allergy in the long run. This approach has recently shown to provide long lasting protection against peanut allergy.
SIMILAR STUDIES completed on peanut with encouraging results
A study done in recent years in Australia combined a probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy. It showed positive results in inducing long term sustained unresponsiveness to peanut allergens up to 4 years after completing the treatment.
Click here to read more about this Australian peanut OIT study: Long-term clinical and immunological effects of probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy after treatment cessation: 4-year follow-up of a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
The Singapore National University Hospital conducted a similar probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) program concluded in 2018. This program also produced encouraging results.
Of the 7 patients who completed the OIT protocol, 6 tolerated 6000mg of peanut protein at the first oral food challenge at 6 months of maintenance phase. This is equivalent to 24 peanuts or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. The Singapore National University Hospital study observed however, that desensitization wore off for one of the participants who consented to abstinence from peanut for 4 weeks after completion of the oral immunotherapy protocol. Still, this is positive development as the data shows peanut OIT is a safe and effective way to induce some peanut desensitization.
Click here to read more about this Singapore peanut OIT program: Efficacy and safety of oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy: a pilot study in Singaporean children
Egg Allergy is the MOST common Food allergy among Singaporean children under the age of 3!
Egg allergy is the most common food allergy among Singaporean children under the age of three. These studies done on peanut gives me a lot of hope for the future. Who knows, research may pave the way for more effective and safe treatment options for food allergies in coming years. And the best way to speed up these developments? We, the allergic community must rally together with the medical community and help in the research. Let’s spread the word to raise awareness for the allergic community and reach those interested or suitable to participate in these evidence based studies.
The registration for this trial closes end April 2021. Potential participants are those between the ages 5 and 30 years of age. And who have a proven or suspected allergy to egg. Please contact Ms. Dinara Zamanova, clinical research coordinator of NUH at the following to find out more.
Phone: 9653 3752 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)
Sharing is caring, do forward this to anyone who has a confirmed or suspected egg allergy who may benefit from participating in this study.
Credits and Disclaimers:
The Author would like to thank Dr Elizabeth Tham, consultant and Head, Division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology, Department of Paediatrics, Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute for fact checking allergy terminology used in this post.
All opinions and views expressed herein are the author’s own and not anyone else’s. Any quotes from medical healthcare professionals are written from the author’s perspective and should not be construed as medical advice. Every child and every symptom is different thus it is important to seek advice from a professional allergist or dermatologist for your unique situation. All images and pictures on this website are copyright of the owner of this website and cannot be used or downloaded without permission.
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