Stories about: Injury Prevention

100 years of allergy treatment

Immunology celebrates its 100th birthday this month

Written by Joshua Feblowitz

One hundred years ago, a British scientist by the name of Leonard Noon attempted to treat hay fever by injecting patients with of small amounts of grass pollen. Inspired by successful vaccines for diseases like smallpox, Noon hoped to cure patients of their allergy by helping them build up an “active immunity” to the pollen.

In his laboratory at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, Noon carefully prepared “pollen extracts” to test his theory. To study patients’ reactions to pollen, he sprinkled the extract directly into their eyes – undoubtedly a very unpleasant experience, as anyone with seasonal allergies can imagine. Finally, he injected patients with the extract over several weeks in increasing amounts, successfully reducing their sensitivity to the pollen.

Noon’s 1911 study represents the first successful example of allergen immunotherapy, a treatment that involves gradually exposing an allergic person to an allergen to coax their immune system into tolerating the substance. Although Noon never uses the word “allergy” in his original paper – at the time the term was just 4 years old—his discovery marked the beginning of a new era for allergy research and treatment. Today, allergen immunotherapy continues to be employed by innovative researchers around the world, including right here at Children’s Hospital Boston.

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Children's celebrates Hubway launch

Children's staff were on hand for the Hubway launch in downtown Boston

In an effort to promote physical activity and reduce traffic in and around its campus, Children’s Hospital Boston is a proud co-sponsor of a new city-wide bike sharing program that kicked off Thursday at Boston’s City Hall. Dubbed the “New Balance Hubway,” the program provides 600 rental bicycles, which can be picked up and dropped off at any of the 61 solar-powered stations set up throughout the city.

People can register with the Hubway program online for discounted rates, or simply go to any Hubway station and borrow a bike. Once you’re done with your ride, you return the bike to the nearest Hubway station and your credit card or rider’s account will be automatically charged for the amount of time used. It’s like Zipcar, but with pedals.

Hubway program will start with 600 bikes and 61 rental stations, with more to follow

Modeled after proven successful bike share programs in cities like Paris, Montreal, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis, Children’s is hopeful that hospital employees, parents or visitors may pick up a bicycle near the hospital at one of the six local Hubway station and ride to an offsite meeting, run an errand downtown, or get some exercise on the Esplanade. Of course cyclists should always wear a helmet, and should you find yourself in the area but without the proper protection Children’s lobby Safety Store is now selling adult bike helmets for $10.

While on the topics of bikes, here are a few quick bike safety points for parents of young riders:

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Our patients’ stories: A protective bubble of my own

Sandy Ho
I’ve always known my parents would forever see me as their baby. And being their little girl, I knew that it would be hard for them to watch me leave for college to live in a dorm, all by myself. I appreciate their concerns and love, but it didn’t change the fact that after high school I was ready to be on my own. As a kid with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (O.I.), a brittle bones condition, I could not wait to get out from their protective bubble, which I had lived inside of for 18 years.

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Stricter rules for ATV safety

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 16 not operate All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), many children still ride them—and some are killed or seriously hurt. Lois Lee, MD, MPH, who specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, spoke out yesterday in support of a Massachusetts bill that would raise the legal age requirement to drive an ATV. Current laws mandate that a child as young as 10 can ride an ATV with adult supervision, but the new bill would increase the minimum ATV driving age to 14.

Click here to see Lee discussing ATV safety for kids on Channel 5 News.

Lee’s support of stricter age restrictions on ATV operational laws isn’t new. Click here to read a 2009 Thrive post, where Lee and David Mooney, MD, MPH, talked about the dangers of younger children driving ATVs.

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