Food allergies can range from moderate to severe, and some children with food allergies can even outgrow their allergies over time. Peanut allergies have undoubtedly had more press due to the severe nature of the allergic reaction in some children. Currently over 4 million people have food allergies with peanut and tree nut allergies being the most common.
Over the past few years, some medical experts have been testing the hypothesis that administering small does of the allergenic food over time can eliminate the food allergy altogether and at a minimum increase tolerance. A new study by
The study found that carefully giving a daily dose ofanuts to children was so successful that previously allergic children were able to stop treatment eat peanuts regularly. Key immunologic factors were documented including IgE, which if present in the blood is in indicative of a food allergy; as well as blood, skin, and other immunologic testing.
Five years ago, researchers began enrolling children in the study to figure out if small incremental doses of peanuts could change the body’s immune system response to peanuts. About 10 months into the study the children could ingest up to 15 peanuts per day when starting with only 1/1000 of a peanut at the start of the study. Nine of the 33 children in the study had been on peanut allergy maintenance therapy for over 2 years and 4 of those children have been able to eat peanuts and remain off therapy.
By the end of the study, the children’s peanut IgE had dropped significantly showing less sensitivity to peanuts and have remained low. Researchers warn, however, that although the study showed promising results much more research needs to be done to further test desensitization techniques. Also noted is that some peanut allergies are far too severe to test this theory and warn that parents and health care professional should not try this at home.
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