In early March I had the opportunity to attend the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s (AAAAI) annual conference (this year it was in Los Angeles). Thousands of immunologists/allergists from around the world attended the conference, spending 4 days participating in educational seminars, collaborating with their peers, and learning more about allergy-related products at the exhibit hall. For me (a lay person), it was a bit overwhelming but a fabulous experience nonetheless…
Being a food allergy parent can at times be a lonely existence… we know the statistics… we are now at epidemic levels and there are no signs the problem is abating…but while we all know so many other families struggling with the same problems, the majority of people we interact with in our daily lives cannot relate to the pressures we deal with and the stress that keeps us up at night. I wanted a view from the frontlines…and after spending a couple of days walking the AAAAI exhibit hall and meeting with hundreds of doctors and vendors (big and small), I am encouraged to report that the food allergy community, and doctors, pharmaceutical companies and retailers specifically, are not taking the food allergy problem lightly.
Some interesting research presented at the conference:
- As a parent of 8 children, 3 of whom have food allergies, I found it fascinating to learn that feeding infants peanuts early on reduces their risk of getting peanut allergies. While this has long been theorized, apparently it has now been confirmed by researchers in London. It’s counterintuitive to what my wife and I had thought…once our 5th and 6th children were confirmed to have peanut allergies, we kept peanuts far away from our 7th and 8th children until they were tested!
- Another group of researchers studied the prevalence of surface and airborne peanut allergens around tables in restaurants and airplane tray tables. Their research finds that surface exposure to peanut allergens is more likely than airborne, and tray tables specifically represent the highest risk…confirming that the common practice of wiping down tray tables and arm rests as part of your flying checklist is wise.
- Dr. Hugh Sampson, Principal Investigator of DBV Technologies’ OLFUS-VIPES study, presented data that continued to support the favorable safety, efficacy and tolerability of Viaskin Peanut in peanut allergic patients. This is encouraging news for those of us who are anxiously awaiting the commercial release of this seemingly revolutionary new drug treatment.
Attending the AAAAI conference gives one the understanding and appreciation that there are tens of thousands of dedicated professionals worldwide who are striving in the short term to make our children’s lives as safe, comfortable, and convenient as possible, while at the same time focused on the long term to developing a cure.