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AAAAI: Exposure Therapy May Reduce Toddler Peanut Allergy

When given to toddlers, therapy helped them shed sensitivity, researchers report

MONDAY, Feb. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Exposing young children with peanut allergies to small amounts of the legumes shows promise as a treatment, according to research findings scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), held from Feb. 20 to 24 in Houston.

The small study included 40 children aged 9 to 36 months with peanut allergy. Some were enrolled within six months of suffering an allergic reaction to peanuts, while others had tested positive for peanut allergy but had never been exposed to peanuts. Ten children dropped out or were removed from the study for various reasons, including adverse events. A remaining 30 received either low- or high-dose oral immunotherapy and completed the treatment program.

Twenty-nine of the 30 children achieved what the researchers termed “sustained unresponsiveness” to peanuts. “Without a placebo group, we cannot say for sure that all of the favorable outcomes were caused by early-intervention oral immunotherapy,” said study author Brian Vickery, M.D., in an AAAAI news release. Vickery is an assistant professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But the treatment was well-tolerated, and its success rate was higher than the 20 percent rate of spontaneously outgrowing a peanut allergy that has been reported in other research, Vickery said, adding that the research team is conducting further trials on the therapy.

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