Today Show: Tessa Grosso Severe Food Allergies
Not long ago, 10-year-old Tessa Grosso was scared to eat anything. The carefree silliness that comes with being 10-years-old was something Tessa never thought she would be able to have. She told the Today Show she was allergic to milk, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish.
Her food allergies were so severe that a bit of spilled milk put her into anaphylactic shock before she was even two. Her mother said there were numerous times when her daughter almost died. The life-threntening foods all around her took an emotional and physical toll on Tessa. She was scared to leave the house, she wouldn’t eat and she was having anxiety attacks frequently.
“Some people actually teased me,” said Tessa as tears welled up in her eyes. “There really isn’t something different except I just can’t eat something.”
Today Show: Oral Immunotherapy Cures Food Allergies
Tessa’s parents knew they had to do something to help their child, so they started working with Dr. Kari Nadeau who told the parents she would be able to get rid of Tessa’s food allergies by using oral immunotherapy which would desensitize Tessa to the certain foods she was allergic too.
In just four months, the experimental regimen worked. Tessa had become the first person to be desensitized to more than one allergen at the same time. The treatment worked by putting Tessa on a powerful drug that suppressed her allergic reactions and then feeding Tessa small amounts of the food she was allergic to. Doctors continued this routine for four months, gradually upping the dosage of the drug and the food.
Although Tessa was a bit skeptical at first, telling her mother if she died while getting the treatment it was all her mother’s fault, she celebrated her treatment with a cake that could have killed her just months before. New York Times Magazine reporter Melanie Thernstrom was the author who brought the story to the public eye with her latest article in the magazine. She said she wrote the story after her own son almost died from his food allergies.
“They use the word ‘desensitizing’ the child,” Thernstrom said. “But the fact is, from a parent’s point of view, it is a cure. Your child is eating the food and as long as your child eats the food, they are done with their allergies.”
As for Tessa, she said the biggest change in her life is not being scared any longer. She said she doesn’t have anxiety attacks any longer.