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Peanut Allergy "Patch" Study Now Recruiting in Chicago!

A new treatment option for peanut allergy is currently being studied in Chicago!
This treatment modality is commonly referred to as the "peanut patch", and aims to induce tolerance to peanut protein by delivering small amounts of peanut allergen to the immune system through the skin. This is similar in concept to oral and sublingual immunotherapy for foods. However, in the case of the patch, the mode of delivery is hoped to result in fewer reactions during treatment, as the allergen will not be ingested. It is certainly an interesting development, which may hold promise in the treatment of food allergy. This study is recruiting children as young as age 6 years, so it may be an option for those children who are not old enough to qualify for the Food Allergy Herbal Formula study.
Please read the memorandum below for further details: --------------------------------------------------------------------
...I would like to share with you the exciting new peanut allergy clinical t…

Neglected Child's Eyes Well Up, AllergistMommy's Priorities Get Shaken Up

It's been a crazy few months...

My micropractice is now a little over a year old, and I've been blessed with a growing patient base. However, with more patients comes MORE WORK! I love the patient care part - could do that all day. However, I could do without some of the paperwork, data entry, inventory, etc. I pretty much stopped sleeping.

So the time came to add someone to my team. The search for someone who can channel my vision for the practice into their everyday activities was not an easy one. Resumes, essay exams (yes, I actually had candidates complete an essay exam!), interviews, math quizzes, background checks... phew! Adding employees also means adding an employee handbook, policies and procedure manual, compliance programs, payroll, worker's insurance. Wait a minute - I thought getting help was supposed to reduce my workload?

So, no one would blame me if I haven't been scrapbooking, right? Wrong. My 4 year old blames me, and rightfully so.

This morning, he…

A Peek Into the Mind of a 4 Year-Old

Yesterday morning, I asked my younger son to throw his dirty clothes down the laundry chute. What I witnessed shortly thereafter cracked me up:

Son #2: "Bye-bye, underwear! Have a nice trip!"
Son #2 (imitating the "voice" of his dirty underwear): "Nooooo! I don't want to go!"
Son #2 (back to himself): "Sorry, you need to get clean. Now go, and have a nice day!"

It makes me smile to witness my children engaged in imaginative play. In this day of little faces glued to tiny screens, it's so nice to see that creativity and imagination are still the best entertainment.


How My Asthmatic Son Taught Me Not to Underestimate His Potential

My younger son and I both have asthma. Although we are well controlled, we still carry rescue medication with us everywhere. Even well-controlled asthma can flare severely under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

I was especially cautious during a recent family vacation to Colorado. Living in the Midwest, we were unaccustomed to the thin mountain air, and I worried that my 3 year old might have his enjoyment of the trip ruined by asthma symptoms.

So when our agenda was modified to include a steep 1.2 mile hike to view a pristine lake nestled close to the mountaintop, I wondered aloud if we should leave him behind at the hotel with his grandparents. My husband (who does not have asthma) glibly replied, "Relax, he can handle it!".

"Easy for you to say," I retorted. "What are we going to do if he has an asthma attack halfway up the mountain?"

Dear hubby didn't need to reply. My fearless son overheard the conversation and chimed in: "I want to clim…

My Boys Spend a Morning in My Office. Or, How the AllergistMommy Earned Her Vacation.

My boys spent 2 hours with me in the office this morning. Here's what went down:

1. Coloring on scrap paper with highlighters.
2. Raiding the "treasure bucket" for toys.
3. Putting stickers on each other.
4. Eating fruit snacks in the kitchen.
5. Washing hands in every sink. Singing "handwashing song" at top of lungs.
6. Reading Harry Potter.
7. Sitting on Mommy's lap in waiting room full of patients, reading picture books about fire trucks and trains.
8. Sword-fighting with wooden tongue depressors.
9. Checking oxygen saturation.
10. Using Mommy's stethoscope to listen to everything in the office.
11. Locating Mommy's stash of Mike and Ike candies.
12. Filling cups with water from the water dispenser. Actually drinking most of the water. Dumping leftover water on brother's head.
13. Helping Mommy sweep the floors between patients.
14. Making friends with pediatric patients, and playing "Cut the Rope" and "Angry Birds" with t…

Free Asthma Screenings Help Identify Poorly-Controlled Symptoms

On May 20, 2012, I was pleased to offer a free asthma screening for our local community as a volunteer for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's Annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. This is the 16th year of the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program, the ACAAI's public service campaign to find adults and children who are at risk for undiagnosed and uncontrolled asthma. Our screening was a wonderful experience, and we were able to identify a number of individuals whose respiratory symptoms are likely to improve with comprehensive allergy and asthma care. We've been asked to return for additional screenings, and I plan to do so this summer and fall.



Many thanks to Medical Device Depot for donating the spirometry turbines, without which this screening would not have been possible.



If you are looking for a free asthma screening in your area, please click here to learn more!

"The Doctors" Ill-Advised Suggestion for Viewers to Fake a Butter Allergy

UPDATE: The post you see below was deleted/censored from the comments section by "The Doctors" website. Attempts to repost have also been met with deletion, and there has not been any response from the producer of the program, Jay McGraw.  Recently the Program "The Doctors" aired a segment advising their viewers to tell a "little white lie" and fake a butter allergy when eating out to avoid the ~120 calories from butter added to vegetables and other prepared items. Read it here: http://thedoctorstv.com/main/show_synopsis/1012?section=synopsis As a food-allergic individual, and physician for hundreds of allergic patients, my jaw dropped at the irresponsibility of this suggestion. Read my response to them below, and tell me... what are your thoughts about their recommendation to fake a food allergy?


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As a practicing board-certified allergist, mother of children wit…

Mother's Day Wishes

Mother's Day is nearly upon us, so I feel inclined to spread a little mama-love via the internet.

Fellow mothers of children with allergies, let us acknowledge that:

1. We love our children more than they will ever know, and would lay our lives down for them in a heartbeat.
2. There is not one among us who, if given the opportunity, would not "magically absorb" her child's allergy.
2. We spend the majority of our birthday wishes, shooting star wishes, 11:11 wishes, and 4-leaf clover wishes not on dreams of tropical vacations and lottery winnings, but on hopes for cures and the safety of our little ones.
3. We spend countless hours and dollars selecting and creating meals and treats so that our children can participate in social activities as fully as possible, and not feel isolated.
4. In addition to roles of mother and partner, we have taken up the essential roles of educator and advocate.
5. We eagerly share in the joys of allergies outgrown or treated, and also sh…

Keratosis Pilaris - Or, Why My Kid Looks Like a Plucked Chicken

The skin is the body's largest organ. The condition of the skin is, in many ways, a window into our internal health. Therefore, it is only natural that people become immediately concerned by rashes. We often neglect our own elevated blood pressure, achey joints, or other ailments. The onset of a new rash, on the other hand, can quickly lead to a call to the doctor.

Interestingly, there is one rash I see in my practice which rarely causes alarm among patients and parents. In fact, it is common for a parent to state, "Oh, that? His sister has that too. In fact, so do I!"

Keratosis Pilaris is a common, heritable disorder which results in small bumps consisting of accumulated skin cells and keratin at the sites of hair follicles. It is especially common in people who have a history of allergies.
Although it can be mildly itchy, the rash generally does not cause discomfort. Commonly described as "gooseflesh", keratosis pilaris can be a concern cosmetically, leading…

Unbeknownst to Me, My Husband has Jumped on the One Minute Parenting Bandwagon!

The other night, we piled the kids in the car to go out for dinner.Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" was playing on the radio, and our 7 year old was singing along to the chorus."What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..."At the end of the song, my husband surprised me by asking our son to relate the lesson in that phrase. (Apparently, they had discussed it during a previous car ride. At #1 for quite a few weeks, the song has gotten a lot of radio play.)I was so pleased to hear the kiddo reply, "It means that you shouldn't be too upset if something bad happens or if you don't get something right or if you don't win, because you will learn for the next time." (run on sentence is his own)Well played, boys. Well played.

Lesser Known Symptoms of Environmental Allergies: Can You RecognizeThem?

Illinois experienced an unusually mild winter. I'm pretty sure I saw buds on the trees in my office parking lot a full month ago. I had been preparing myself for a gangbuster of a tree season this spring, and Mother Nature has not disappointed me.

My boys and I suffer from tree pollen allergies. More than birds chirping or flowers blooming, I have come to associate boogery sleeves and sneezing with the onset of spring. But these are the typical symptoms, which are easily recognizable as allergy-induced.

What I'd like to address in this post are some lesser known symptoms of seasonal allergies, which may also be rearing their ugly heads this spring. Red eyes and runny noses aside, there are plenty of other ways that allergies can make us miserable. Especially in children, who already have a hard time translating physical symptoms into words, some of these symptoms are easily overlooked. So, dear reader, I present to you a few somewhat obscure allergy symptoms to be on the look…

Why I Do What I Do

I've recently started offering oral immunotherapy for foods in my practice. I debated with myself for almost a year before implementing protocols for this therapy, because it was incredibly important to have strict and detailed procedures in place, given the serious risks associated with food challenges in highly sensitive individuals. I take food allergy extremely seriously, and it isn't something one "dabbles in". So, it was beyond gratifying to have the following conversation with a patient a few weeks ago:

Me: "You're doing really well with advancements in dosing. If we keep moving along at this pace, pretty soon, you'll be dosing with wheat bread instead of capsules!"
Patient: "Awesome..."
Me: "Don't get too excited. It is going to start with a tiny little morsel of bread, not a sandwich!"
Patient: "You have no idea. I am going to glorify that little morsel! I have been waiting for this for such a long time."

Food Allergy Herbal Formula Study- Now Recruiting!

Great news for Illinois Food Allergy Families!

Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago is currently enrolling volunteers for a Phase 2 clinical trial of Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (FAHF-2). Please see my earlier blog post for details on this exciting therapeutic option.

In order to qualify, you must be:

12-24 years oldAllergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish or shellfish
The study will take ~9 months, and will involve skin prick testing, blood draw, oral food challenge, and treatment with a pill form of Chinese herbs.

If you are interested in participating, please call:1-888-573-1833 or email: allergystudy@childrensmemorial.org

Didn't Count to '10' When Administering EpiPen? "Don't Worry", Study Says.

Conventional wisdom has always been to "count to ten" when administering an epinephrine autoinjector, so as to allow the medication enough time to be adequately delivered into the muscle.

However, in practice, ten seconds can seem like an eternity when attempting to hold a little one still. Many parents worry that if they don't follow the "ten second rule", their squirmy kid will not receive enough life-saving medication to avert an allergic disaster.



Well, here's some good news: a recent study evaluating various EpiPen injection times has determined that even with an injection time as short as 1 second, over 95% of epinephrine was absorbed into muscle. (Baker TW, Webber CM, Stolfi A, Gonzalez-Reyes E: The TEN study: time epinephrine needs to reach muscle. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011;107:235-238.)


No little children were used as pincushions in the course of this study. Instead, the researchers used marbelized beef as a proxy for human thigh muscle, and me…

The One Minute Mother - How the Daily Commute can be Transformative

Ever hear of "The One Minute Manager", that classic book from the 80's that advised wanna-be CEO's on situational leadership techniques? I gave "One Minute Mothering" a try today...

With my husband traveling for work most weeks, and my own expanding allergy micropractice, I don't have a lot of time for long heart-to-hearts with my kids. However, I spend a ton of time in the car with them! Usually, we rock out to Top 40 or listen to NPR. However, my boys aren't gleaning as much from public radio as I had hoped. This week, during a story on civil rights, my 3 year old asked me, "Mommy, who is Mr. Sippy?" To which my 6 year old answered, "It's not Mr. Sippy, dumb-dumb. It's MRS. Sippy!"

Therefore, I've decided to re-purpose our time in the car to full advantage. No more hoping they will learn by osmosis. I've got to be a little more proactive. So, my new project is to find quotes that speak to me somehow, and transla…

The AllergistMommy Wears Pajamas to Daycare, Gets Ridiculed by 6 Year Olds

I love Wednesday, because it's my day off during the week. My day to sip tea, eat biscotti, and catch up on emails, blogging, administrative tasks for work, and laundry.

No rushing to get ready in the morning while encouraging the kids to scarf down their breakfasts! Instead, I can leisurely roll out of bed and focus my efforts on ensuring that my kids are clean, dressed and fed before heading off to school. So what if my make-up isn't done and I'm not fully dressed for work? I throw my hair into a ponytail and once my coat is on, no one is the wiser, right?

Wrong.
Kids notice everything.

So, I was just a little embarrassed when my son was excitedly asked by a friend, "Does your mom have pajama day at work today TOO?!?!" (Kids are crazy about pajama days.)

I looked down at myself, and what I saw was horrifying:
Instead of yoga pants, I left the house in a pair of MY HUSBAND'S PLAID PAJAMA PANTS. You know, the ones that shrunk in the wash as soon as he bought …