BANGOR — A young patient at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center recently became the first in Maine to complete the first phase of an oral medication to reduce her allergic reaction to peanuts. Seven-year-old Newburgh resident Avery began her journey in 2021 by starting increasing doses of the only medication approved by the FDA to help patients aged 4-17 with a peanut allergy.

During this six-month effort, Avery and her parents worked with Rung-chi Li, DO, PhD, allergist and immunologist, Northern Light Allergy and Immunology, to monitor any reaction she had while taking the medication. Education and communication between the parents, doctor, and staff were key. Dr. Li explains, “In order for this immunotherapy to work, the protocol requires a steady commitment from the family. The dose begins small, administering only about 3 mg to start, with a continual increased dose, and a goal of tolerating 300 mg, or about the size of a peanut. Patients must come in to see us every two weeks and take daily scheduled doses at home.”

Graduating from the first phase of this medicine still requires a continued daily maintenance dose. As patients build up their immune tolerance, exposure to peanuts may produce a mild allergy symptom. Now Avery’s parents, Angela and Mark, are more relaxed, knowing their daughter won’t get hives or have a strong reaction at parties or school. Angela says, “Avery is very knowledgeable about reading labels, but now we don’t have to worry about a little cross-contamination, and it’s ok if someone eats a peanut butter sandwich near her at lunch.”

Dr. Li and the staff at Northern Light Allergy and Immunology look forward to graduating more children soon, with four patients currently on the peanut allergy medicine.