Peanut allergy worsens after oral desensitization

Peanut allergy worsens after oral desensitization

Around 1.1 million people in Britain suffer from peanut allergy, including 250,000 children, and recent studies suggested they could be desensitised by increasing exposure over time to prime the immune system.

Soller said home administration is a key facet of the therapy, and most parents were okay with the process once it was explained to them.

Feeding small amounts of peanuts to children to cure them of their allergy increases the risk of them suffering a unsafe anaphylactic shock by three-fold in the year after treatment, a major review has found.

Those taking the treatment also reported more epinephrine use and saw roughly double the rate of other kinds of allergic reactions, the study showed.

Studies of oral immunotherapy now measure treatment success by whether a treated patient can pass a supervised food challenge, but this cannot predict a patient's future risk and frequency of allergic reactions in the real world.

"We found a significant concern that the risk actually was increased", lead author Dr. Derek Chu told CTV News.

The risk of people with peanut allergy suffering from anaphylactic shock increases from 7.1 percent to 22 percent when they take small doses of peanuts to desensitize them.

Chu, who has been allergic to peanuts for almost his entire life, practises avoidance himself. He checks the contents of all the food he eats, and stays away from anything that he worries might cause a reaction.

"There is no government-approved product [anywhere in] the world for this", he said, calling for more research until the therapy is made widely available.

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Togias said there are a number of potential avenues for modifying how we approach oral immunotherapy, including changing the dose and taking it in combination with other medications, such as those that prevent allergic reactions.

Not all doctors agree with Chu's advice. Food allergies, however, are not so predictable. Finally, we should not forget that we now know that the early introduction of peanut products into the infant diet can prevent most cases of peanut allergy. They note that large, well done randomised controlled trials are required to clarify the effect, if any, of peanut oral immunotherapy on quality of life. "They are doing things with their families that they were in quite a bit of fear about doing beforehand", he said.

However, studies assessing the effectiveness of oral immunotherapy measure the treatment's success by whether a person can pass a supervised food challenge.

Two-thirds of the children in the study (67.8%) experienced a reaction to the peanut protein, but two-thirds of those reactions were either mild or moderate.

"Between the ages of one to five, our study showed very impressive safety results suggesting that it's safe for many families", study author Dr. Edmond Chan told CTV News.

"Our study synthesizes all randomized clinical trials comparing peanut oral immunotherapy to no immunotherapy in order to generate the highest quality evidence to inform decision-making", says Chu.

"The younger the better", he said. "If you have a one-year-old, that would be ideal".

"We don't want to derail oral immunotherapy, but both physicians and patients need to be educated about the risks and benefits of this procedure".

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