Rady Children's Hospital to study peanut allergies

San Diego children needed to participate in study

SAN DIEGO - A new medical breakthrough could soon be possible for those with peanut allergies, with San Diego at the forefront of the discovery.

If you're a parent of a child with a food allergy, wearing a sticker or button that announces your allergy isn't practical or realistic.

Just ask 10-year-old San Diego resident Estella Getchell.

"I remember going to preschool and eating a peanut butter cracker. I thought it was cheese," said Estella, who is allergic to peanuts. "I reacted two hours later at the park with stomach aches and vomiting."

She is not alone. Some children break out in a rash or swell up and end up in the emergency room.

Once that happens, they're forced to change their eating habits at school and at home.

"We mostly don't go to restaurants that I can't eat at," added Estella.

Enter a new international study taking place at Rady Children's Hospital. The hospital is one of eight in the U.S. taking part in what's called the "Peanut Allergy Desensitization Study."

"This is groundbreaking research. It's the first time that our community here in San Diego has been able to participate in this type of food allergy clinical research," said Stephanie Leonard, M.D., director of the Food Allergy Center at Rady Children's Hospital.

Leonard said participants wear a daily skin patch that contains tiny amounts of peanut. The purpose of the patch, which is about the size of a quarter, is to see if those who wear it will develop lower sensitivity to peanuts.

"The great thing about the patch is that it does contain a tiny amount of peanut protein, but we know it does not get absorbed in to the bloodstream," added Leonard.

This will dramatically decrease the risk of an allergic reaction.

Estella is just happy to be a part of perhaps a cure.

"It's pretty cool knowing that people who have to sometimes suffer with this or can even die from it be cured," she added.

10News learned 3,000 local children have been seen at Rady Children's Hospital with peanut allergies in the past decade alone.

If you would like more information about the study, visit http://www.rchsd.org

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