- Researchers warn as study reveals it may make them MORE sensitive
Recent studies have found oral immunotherapy (giving kids peanuts) can be effective but a new study by McMaster University in Canada found the opposite.
They found that attempts to desensitize children in the ‘real world’ promoted allergic reactions more than avoiding peanuts.
‘Food challenge’ studies have indicated that oral immunotherapy, which involves gradually raising doses of an allergen over time, can be effective. However, new research by McMaster University raises doubts about this approach.
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It showed that compared with avoiding peanuts, attempts to desensitize children in the ‘real world’ promote allergic reactions, including the serious and potentially fatal condition anaphylaxis.
Scientists pooled the results of 12 trials involving more than 1,000 young patients with an average age of nine whose progress was followed for a year.
Researchers found that peanut oral immunotherapy tripled rates of anaphylaxis, from around 7.1 percent to 22.2 percent. Allergic reactions leading to vomiting, abdominal pain, mouth itching, hives, wheezing and asthma all increased.
The findings favor avoidance over current forms of oral immunotherapy, said the study authors writing in The Lancet medical journal.
Lead researcher Dr Derek Chu, from McMaster University in Canada, said: ‘Numerous studies of varying quality have been published on oral immunotherapy, but its effectiveness and reliability remains unclear.
Peanut allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly treats three types of peanut protein (Ara h1, Ara h2 and Ara h3) as a threat, when it comes into contact with them.
Their body then releases chemicals to destroy what it perceives as a dangerous invader. This rush of chemicals triggers symptoms of an allergic reaction, often within seconds. These range from an itchy mouth to anaphylactic shock, where the airways narrow, blood pressure plummets and organs start to shut down.
Sufferers who have had severe reactions usually carry an EpiPen device to give themselves a shot of adrenaline if another reaction occurs. This opens up the airways and dilates blood vessels to force blood pressure back up.
Commenting in the journal, Dr Graham Roberts, from the University of Southampton, said, “Although epicutaneous immunotherapy is less effective, it has a better safety profile than oral immunotherapy, which some patients might find more acceptable.” Mail Online