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Experimental Treatment Gives Hope to Children with Peanut Allergies

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

A new study shows that exposing children with peanut allergies to a carefully administered daily oral dose of peanuts helped them build tolerance to the point where some of them appear to have lost their allergies.

The study was conducted by researchers at Duke University. They were quick to point out that parents of children with food allergies should not try the experiment at home. The study involved 33 children with a history of peanut allergies. They were gradually given larger daily doses of peanut protein, while other allergic children were given a placebo. The starting doses were very small, as little as 1/1000th of a peanut. The doses increased until the children ate the equivalent of up to 15 peanuts a day about 10 months later, and then they stayed on the daily therapy while they were monitored.

Nine of the 33 children participating in the study have been on maintenance therapy for more than 2.5 years, and four of them were able to discontinue the treatment and eat peanuts, the researchers said.

“This is not something to be done at home,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, chief of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke and a co-author of the research. “It truly is an investigational study.”

But the children in the study did build long-term tolerance, with the researchers documenting key immunologic changes reflecting a lack of allergic response.

More Information: Duke University

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