Not long after she was born, Caryn Tatelli recognized that her newborn daughter Susan had a serious peanut allergy.
“We had an emergency landing on a flight, and then 9 months later she had a reaction while sitting next to me in a movie theater," Tatelli, who lives in Highland Park, said.
Susan is now 13 years old, and remembers vividly the days when her allergy dictated her every move.
“I couldn’t go to the movies. I couldn’t fly on an airplane. It was hard to go to friends' houses and sleep over,” Susan said.
But 18 months ago, the Tatelli family discovered a clinical trial at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where doctors used oral immunotherapy to help battle Susan's lifelong allergy.
“It made sense to me, the idea of starting with a really, really miniscule amount of the allergen and then slowly teaching the body tolerate it. That made sense," Caryn said.
At first, Susan had a bad reaction to the therapy, but as the trial went on, her tolerance for peanuts began to increase. Now, her allergy has subsided to the point where she can enjoy life in ways she never thought possible.
“I’ve gone to the movies. I’ve been on a plane and I can eat things that have been made in a facility with cross contact," Susan said.
While the therapy is not a 100 percent cure for the allergy, she can now live without fear of an allergic reaction from simply being in the same room as a peanut product. And that, her mother says, is a great source of comfort and relief.
“I can actually envision sending her off to college, doing things I never imagined being possible for her," Tatelli said.