Peanut allergy is one of the most severe food allergies, affecting around three in every 100 children.
There is currently no con rmed treatment to prevent or cure allergic reactions to peanuts and the allergy is the most common cause of food-related anaphylaxis death. There has been some promising research into oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy. That is, exposure to a very small amount of peanut, in a controlled environment, administered by health professionals over time. Limited evidence suggests this therapy may have a desensitising effect on the allergy and help those affected to build a safety margin against inadvertent exposure to peanuts.
A trial has investigated the effectiveness of this therapy when used soon after an allergy diagnosis. The study involved 37 children aged between nine and thirty-six months. The children were given either high or low dose peanut exposure each day, for around 29 months.
Around 80% of the treated children were able to eat foods containing peanuts without having an allergic reaction. Furthermore, they were 19 times more likely to be able to eat peanuts with no issues, compared to the group of children with peanut allergy who had no treatment.
This adds further promise to the bene ts of exposure therapy for treating peanut allergies in children. It’s important to remember that peanut allergies are very serious and potentially life threatening. This therapy should only be administered under direct medical supervision by a qualified health professional and should never be tried at home.
Reference: Vickery, BP et al. Early oral immunotherapy in peanut-allergic preschool children is safe and highly effective. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Epub online August 10, 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.05.027.