Terrell Co. family tries oral immunotherapy for child’s peanut allergy

Terrell Co. child gets treatment for peanut allergy

DAWSON, Ga. (WALB) - While the FDA considers what would become the first drug approved for treating food allergies, specifically aimed at kids with peanut allergies, one girl in south Georgia is already getting a similar but separate treatment.

Amanda Cooper said that her daughter Mia, 5, can have an allergic reaction just by touching someone who recently touched a peanut.

Meet Mia Cooper! She's 5 years old, and has a pretty intense peanut allergy. That's not a good thing for a kid who lives...

Posted by Emileigh Forrester WALB on Monday, October 7, 2019

She has even had a reaction before after lying on a Nutter Butter wrapper.

The Coopers live in Terrell County, where the USDA Farm Service Agency said that 115 farms planted peanuts this year alone.

"She's allergic to her town," Amanda explained.

Several of her loved ones work with peanuts, including her grandfather.

“He had peanut dust all over him and she kissed him,” Amanda said of one encounter between the child and her grandfather. “None of us, even crossed our minds... she was itching, swollen, broken out. That was probably her worst one.”

"It can be so severe that a patient may pass away from it," explained Dr. Erin Cannington, Mia's doctor.

Several of Mia's loved ones work with peanuts, including her grandfather.
Several of Mia's loved ones work with peanuts, including her grandfather. (Source: WALB)

Dr. Cannington is an allergist and immunologist, and recommended oral immunotherapy for Mia.

"Oral-immunotherapy is just a way to desensitize someone to something they're allergic to."

Starting a couple of weeks ago, Amanda and Mia drive to Atlanta every other week.

Every day, she eats peanut protein mixed into yogurt or pudding.

Right now, because her oral immunotherapy just got started, she eats very small amounts daily.

But after nine months to a year, the plan is for her to eat the equivalent of a couple of peanuts every day.

The goal is not for Mia to be able to eat all the peanuts she wants.

Dr. Erin Cannington, Allergist (Source: WALB)
Dr. Erin Cannington, Allergist (Source: WALB)

"It's just that if an exposure happens by accident, if something is ingested, the reaction may be less severe," Dr. Cannington said.

Amanda struggles with the fact that her young daughter has to worry about when she might encounter a peanut next.

She hopes that will change.

"That's hard, to be scared of stuff. I don't want her scared," Amanda said. "As long as we can just be around them and me not have to worry, her not have to worry...that is what I want. Anything else would be a bonus."

Once the treatment program wraps up next year, that's not the end for Mia.

She’ll have to eat a set amount of peanuts every day for the rest of her life to keep up her tolerance.

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