For 15 million Americans with food allergies, what they eat could kill them. The problem seems to be on the rise, too. The CDC reports an 18% increase between 1997 and 2007 -- but some people are beating their allergies.
Hannah Gooch loves the ukulele, and a food that could have killed her. Hannah was allergic to eggs -- but not anymore. "It's a huge thing. I mean it makes me kinda teary thinking about it," says Necia Joy, Hannah’s mom.
Hannah took part in an egg allergy study led by UNC doctor Wesley Burks. "There's no proactive treatment, and that's the reason this study was done."
Kids with the allergy ate egg protein every day. "They'd give me a dose, um, of egg protein in powder," says Hannah.
About once a year, they would eat a real egg to test their tolerance. At the end of three years, 45% of the kids were able to add egg to their diets.
"And they just said Hannah can have egg, and we were all like, what!" says Necia.
Dr. Burks says the results are promising, but… "more phase two and then more phase three studies need to be done before we can say yes, it's the right thing to do."
It's changed Hannah's life. Now she can focus on her music, not her old allergy.
Dr. Burks says further studies testing the egg allergy treatment are in the works. He says if successful, it could be applied to other common food allergies, like milk and peanuts.