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Petition seeks trial to treat food allergies

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A life of checking labels and being hyper vigilant about eating habits has been the norm for one Lake Macquarie family.

The Hattons’ daughter, Chloe, suffered her first episode of anaphylaxis at the age of four.
The allergic reaction, which could become life-threatening, was triggered by exposure to tree nuts.

 “We nearly lost her because we didn’t know what was happening,” Chloe’s mother, Rebecca, says.

“Since then, it’s basically been about creating a little bubble around her to keep her safe.

“Now she’s in high school, it is a little bit harder because she’s wanting a bit more independence – she’s wanting to go shopping with her friends and obviously have lunch out together.

“That makes life a bit harder because you don’t want your mum hanging around.”

The Floraville family is not alone.

Australia has the world’s highest incidence of food allergies per capita, with one in 10 infants and one in 20 children developing reactions.

A petition, which has already attracted more than 6,000 signatures, urges the federal government to fund research into a potentially life-changing treatment.

Oral immunotherapy involves planned and managed incremental exposure to an allergen under controlled conditions.

There are two types – one uses pharmaceutical products and the other relies on the careful introduction of the allergenic food under clinical supervision.

The latter, known as food immunotherapy, is available overseas but has yet to be offered in Australia.

Trials are not commercially funded, so petitioners have sought the government’s support to facilitate it in a practical, accessible form.

This will prevent many Australian families, such as the Hattons, from needing to relocate overseas for the treatment.

For Chloe, the only way she can currently get treatment is if she visits the United States.

“It’ll open a lot of doors for her and all Australians really,” Rebecca says.

“Because it doesn’t involve pharmaceuticals and it involves actual food, there’s no reason why it can’t start happening straight away.

“There’s also a doctor over in Utah who is willing to come over here to train doctors and teach them what they need to do in order to get it happening.”

The petition, titled Access to Food Allergy Treatment, will close on Wednesday 16 October.

It requests the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to facilitate all necessary policy initiatives, legislation and administrative action required to establish the trial.

Visit foodallergygoals.com for more information and a link to the petition.

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