Study finds way to help children overcome peanut allergy
Consuming small, sequential doses of boiled peanuts help overcome children’s allergic reactions, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy, found that 80 per cent of children with peanut allergy become desensitised to eating peanuts following the trial.
Since up to three per cent of children in Western countries are grappling with peanut allergies, scientists, including those from Flinders University in the US, say the new clinical trial can help develop a novel treatment to reduce the risk of accidental peanut exposure and improve quality of life for peanut-allergic children.
Their new study is based on previous findings that heat affects the protein structure and allergic properties of peanuts, making them potentially less likely to cause severe allergic reactions.
Scientists tested whether a therapy delivering small, increasing doses of boiled peanuts, followed by roasted peanuts, may help children overcome their peanut allergies.
“Small and increasing doses of boiled nuts were first given to children to partially desensitise them, and when they showed no signs of an allergic reaction, increasing doses of roasted peanuts were then provided to increase their tolerance in the next stage of treatment,” study co-author Tim Chataway said in a statement.
Researchers asked 70 peanut-allergic children of ages six to 18 to consume peanuts boiled for 12 hours for 12 weeks, 2 hour boiled peanuts for 20 weeks, and roasted peanuts for 20 weeks.
Scientists found that 56 of the 70 (80 per cent) participants became desensitized to a daily target dose of consuming 12 roasted peanuts without allergic reactions.
While treatment-related adverse events were reported in over 60 per cent of the participants, only 3 withdrew from the trial as a result, the study noted.
“Our clinical trial shows promising early signs in demonstrating that boiling peanuts may provide a safe and effective method for treating peanut-allergic children with sequential doses of boiled and roasted peanuts over an extended period of time,” says Luke Grzeskowiak, another author of the study, said.
However, scientists caution that this method of therapy may not work for everyone, but add that they are in the process of better understanding what factors can influence how people respond to treatment.
While these findings hold “great promise”, researchers add that the results also require confirmation in a larger definitive clinical trial.