Glimmer of Hope for Peanut Allergy Sufferers

Saturday 20th February 2010

For many people their peanut allergy can be life-threatening and evidently a massive worry for their everyday eating habits. However, following a meeting with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a group of researchers from Cambridge University Hospitals in England believe the answer could lie in an immunotherapy option.

Immunotherapy involves the introduction of peanuts in a very small amount into the allergy sufferer’s diet, which is then increased over the next few months. Their recent research involved a group of 23 children with the peanut allergy who were given small amounts of peanuts to eat on a daily basis. Two weeks into the study most of the children were able to eat up to 5 peanuts a day, whilst some children did have adverse side effects in the form of itchy mouths and abdominal pain. However, promisingly 91% of the children were able to eat the 5 peanuts a day without such reactions. A further six months down the line and 19 children were able to eat up to 12 peanuts a time. Then a year after the test commenced 15 of the children were able to eat 32 peanuts in one sitting. These children found massive improvements in their lives as they didn’t feel they had to constantly be checking food packaging for traces of nuts.

The next stage lies in a further investigation using more children and a controlled trial. However, the results are a promising step in not only the cure of such allergies but the understanding of them as there appears to be a lot of confusion as to just what causes an allergy and the diagnosis of them, particularly recently. Doctors do stress that this kind of immunotherapy should not be carried out at home, as these allergy tests have been carried out within the safety of a hospital with emergency medical treatment on standby. Evidently, there are unknown risks involved in this kind of therapy as the patient is going to be eating something that could cause a severe allergic reaction within their bodies. Equally, this type of therapy has only been tested for a year so it remains unclear as to just what the long-term affects of such treatments are.


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