For many parents, the sight of a scape on the knee or full blow hit at a soccer game may seem devastating. For other folks, those childhood nicks and bumps would almost seem like a cheek kiss. Those are parents whose children suffer from life-threatening food allergies.
For some, it can be just a simple peanut that can send their child to the grave. And the threat is very democratic. It knows no difference in race, creed, color or financial standing.
This lesson was well known to Rachael and Bob Dedman, Bob’s mom Nancy Dedman and Alicia and Scott Wood, who spearheaded the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Health. It was when Rachael’s and Bob’s daughter, “Little Nancy“ Dedman, had her first allergic reaction that snapped the Dedmans’ attention to the amazingly unappreciated medical condition. The result was their gathering up friends and funds to create the Food Allergy Center at Children’s and having Dr. Drew Bird head up the department.
On Tuesday, January 24, the Dedmans opened up their palatial home in Preston Hollow to re-energize the program, complete with Pat and Charles McEvoy, Baxter Brinkman, Cindy and Brett Govett, Dr. Becky Gruchalla, Katy Miller, past Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Kern Wildenthal and his wife Marnie Wildenthal and Christina Durovich.
Greeting the 50 or so guests at the entry hall was Children’s Health CEO Chris Durovich and Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher. The pair but especially Chris were remarkably relaxed greeting the attendees, with Chris referring to himself and Brent as “Ping and Pong.” Chris also recalled how, when he was a young man, Ben and Jerry would hand out free ice cream in his Vermont hometown.
Speaking of food, the micro-doubled-baked potatoes placed on silver trays of beans were such a hit that even the most diet-conscious types couldn’t resist ‘em.
Pat and Claude Presidge, like others, wandered back to Bob’s office and discovered the most marvelous desk. In addition to the inlaid leather desktop, there was a fabulous elevated building that extended the full length of the desk that had secret compartments. No surprise. After all, guests had been greeted on either side of the entry hall by TK-foot tall busts of the Dedman daughters (“Little Nancy“ Dedman and Catherine Dedman).
When the living room was filled to capacity, Rachael introduced Fare (Food Allergy Research and Education) CEO/Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Baker, who told how his organization’s purpose was to fight for the rights of those suffering from food allergies. Just days before, Fare had filed a federal complaint against American Airlines about “the airline’s not allowing passengers with severe nut allergies to pre-board its planes along with other passengers with disabilities.” The reason for the pre-boarding is to allow the passengers “to wipe down their seats and tray tables,” according to Jim.
(Editor’s note: It should be noted that while American does not serve nuts on board, it does serve other nut products and other passengers are allowed to bring nuts on board.)
When the subject of the EpiPen price hike was mentioned, grumbling and not-happy-faces were noted in the crowd.
- Brent talked next very briefly, noting that Dallas County has one of the highest populations of children with food allergies in the country. Then Dr. Drew Bird spoke to the group, including his wife Brenda Bird, and introduced his new associate Dr. Christopher Parrish before announcing the opening of a food allergy center branch in Plano.
Points of interests about food allergies from Children’s Health included:
- Eggs, milk and peanuts are the most common causes of food allergies in children, with wheat, soy and tree nuts also included.
- Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish commonly cause the most severe reactions.
- Nearly 5% of children under the age of 5 have food allergies.
- One in every 13 children in the U.S. — or about two in every classroom in America — has a food allergy.
- Dallas County has one of the highest rates of food-allergic children in the country.
- Food-induced allergic reactions send some to the emergency room every three minutes.
Currently, the Food Allergy Center is working with UT Southwestern on such clinical trials as:
- Miles — The milk patch study is a two-year desensitization study in which patients are randomized to one to three doses or a placebo and wear a small patch between their should blades.
- Palisade Phase 3 — The peanut oral immunotherapy study is a one-year desensitization trial in which patients are randomized to either an active or placebo group. They being with 3 mg. of peanut protein that is gradually increased over 20 weeks to 300 mg.
- Pepites Phase 3 — The peanut patch epicutaneous immunotherapy study randomizes patients to one to three doses or a placebo delivered via a small patch worn between the shoulder blades.
- Slit — In this three-year peanut desensitization study, patients are randomized to either an active or placebo group. Patients takes very small doses of peanut protein under the tongue daily, gradually increasing the dose to a maintenance level.