Having a peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Parents of children with peanut allergies will be interested in the results of a recent clinical trial performed in the U.K. and published in the Lancet. It should be kept in mind that the treatment is still only in the investigative stages.
Researchers from Cambridge University Hospital experimented with oral immunotherapy (OIT) to try and reduce peanut allergies in a group of children aged 6-17.
The peanut treatment group contained 49 children and 50 children were placed in the control group, which did not receive treatment. Both groups were randomly assigned.
Peanut oral immunotherapy was given to the treatment group in the form of peanut protein flour, in gradually increasing doses from 2 mg to 800 mg/day.
The trial was performed in two phases with the first phase lasting six months. At the end of the first phase, “84% of the active group tolerated daily ingestion of 800 mg protein (equivalent to roughly five peanuts),” reported the Lancet abstract.
No children in the control group were able to tolerate that amount of peanuts exposure, meaning no desensitization to peanuts had occurred for them.
In the second phase, all the control children were given peanut OIT as well as the treatment group. In this phase, 91 percent of all the children could tolerate 800 mg of protein and 54 percent were able to tolerate a daily dose of 1400 mg of peanut protein powder.
Side effects to the peanut OIT were considered to be mild. Thirty-one children had nausea, 31 had some vomiting, and one had diarrhea. Itchiness occurred in 76 children, and 21 children had some wheezing. One child needed an epinephrine injection but no one had to be admitted to the hospital.
Peanuts are one of the leading causes of food allergy reactions. In the United States, 400,000 school-aged children have this allergy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically,” study leader Dr. Andrew Clark of Cambridge University Hospitals said in a statement reported in the Los Angeles Times.