Gradual exposure desensitized some kids, but experts advise against trying on your own
SATURDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Help may be on the way for children with serious peanut allergies, with two new studies suggesting that slowly increasing consumption might build kids' tolerance over time.
Both studies were small, and designed to build upon each other. They focused on peanut-allergic children whose immune systems were prompted to slowly develop tolerance to the food by consuming a controlled but escalating amount of peanut over a period of up to five years.
"The current goal with this work is not to allow patients with peanut allergies to consciously eat peanuts, but to prevent the severe symptoms that can occur should they have accidental ingestion," noted study co-author Dr. Tamara Perry, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine in Little Rock, Ark.
"Of course the ultimate goal would be to promote tolerance that would allow these patients -- children and adults -- to eat peanuts," Perry added. "And the immunotherapy work being carried out now shows a lot of potential promise in that direction."
Perry and her associates are slated to present their findings Saturday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) meeting in New Orleans.
A peanut allergy can cause sudden breathing problems and even death. According to the AAAAI, more than three million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
In one study, Perry and colleagues at Duke University placed 15 peanut-allergic children on a slow, but escalating oral dosage program, during which they consumed limited amounts of peanut food. Another eight peanut-allergic children were placed on a placebo regimen.
Among the children exposed to these carefully rising doses of peanut, negative reactions
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