SINGAPORE - For many years, just a tiny pinch of peanut flour would cause 13-year-old Tng Shih Kai to have an allergic reaction that caused nausea, rashes, and swollen lips.
But now, after going through a National University Hospital (NUH) programme to build up his tolerance to the food, he can eat 10 or more peanuts with no problems.
The hospital has been running its food oral immunotherapy programme to help children overcome peanut allergies for the past two years.
It will be expanding the scheme to include other common allergens such as cow's milk, eggs and tree nuts like cashews and pistachios.
Around 20 children have been part of the original scheme since 2015, when it was first launched by the hospital's division of paediatric allergy, immunology, and rheumatology.
Children are typically given minuscule doses of the food to which they are allergic to start with, with doctors gradually increasing the dose over the next few months.
The idea, said Dr Soh Jian Yi, who is in charge of the programme, is to save them and their families the burden of constantly checking food labels and ingredient lists to make sure that a dish is safe.
Peanut allergies are estimated to affect up to one in 200 children in Singapore. Other common allergies include those for shellfish, cow's milk and eggs.