A peanut allergy cure scientists used during a study was proven successful in 88% of children tested. To get the stunning results, doctors exposed children to very small amounts of peanuts over time. The study has been peer reviewed and published in the science journal The Lancet. The potential cure is a type of exposure therapy which reduces children’s reaction to peanuts. The experts caution that this kind of cure is only in the testing stages and should not be attempted by the layperson as it is not yet approved. However, it may pave the way for a dramatic change in the level and severity of peanut allergies children suffer.
The study is entitled Assessing the efficacy of oral immunotherapy for the desensitisation of peanut allergy in children (STOP II): a phase 2 randomised controlled trial. The double-blind, placebo controlled study supports previous research which showed that exposure to small amounts of peanut protein over a long period of time could be successful in reducing allergic reactions in children.
The children who participated in the study ranged in age from 7 to 16, and all of them tested positive for peanut allergy with a skin prick test. They also all had “an immediate hypersensitive reaction” when ingesting peanuts. After they took the cure over a period of months, a significant number of children experienced a dramatic response. Side effects during the study were mild, and none were considered life-threatening.
The cure already has a name: Peanut Oral Immunotherapy. Thus far, the study is the most significant of its kind and the results could bring dramatic relief to parents who are constantly anxious about their children’s exposure to peanuts. Some children’s allergies are so severe, they can’t even safely be around any level of peanut dust. The worst cases of this allergy often produce life-threatening results. Each year, about 150 people die from food allergies because peanut allergies and other food allergies can cause a dangerous and sometimes deadly condition called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the lips, throat and tongue. If not treated immediately, the condition can result in the person’s airway becoming completely blocked.
The potential cure is especially exciting to parents with children who have very severe peanut allergies. While anaphylaxis is most often treated with epinephrine, some children’s allergies are so bad that not even an “epi pen” can save them. A California teen died last year after she ate a dessert that contained peanut butter despite having been given three injections of epinephrine afterward.
Researchers say children who take the cure for their peanut allergies will have to eat peanuts for the rest of their lives in order to keep the results steady. It may seem ironic to some that the cure for peanuts allergies is the culprit of the allergy itself, but eating peanuts seems a small price to pay in exchange for better health. Additional research is taking place to determine if another approach- a blood test to determine the level of allergy in a person after the cure- might remove the necessity for patients to eat peanuts every single day.
The news that a new peanut allergy cure has been proven successful in children will undoubtedly bring hope to millions of families who are currently struggling with the anxiety of dealing with such allergies. Research is ongoing but it appears that an approved cure could soon be on the horizon.
By: Rebecca Savastio