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‘Real world’ UBC study adds to research showing early exposure to peanuts fights allergy

Click to play video 'UBC study says oral therapy effective on peanut allergies' UBC study says oral therapy effective on peanut allergies
A UBC study has found giving young children small doses of peanut protein dramatically reduces their peanut allergies. Linda Aylesworth reports. UBC study says oral therapy effective on peanut allergies – Dec 3, 2020

A new study from the University of British Columbia has is offering more hope for children with potentially deadly peanut allergies.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, replicated research showing that exposing young children to a small, regular dose of peanuts significantly reduced their allergic reaction.

Read more: Canadian study suggests babies who eat peanuts less likely to develop allergy

While it’s not the first study to demonstrate this effect, lead author Dr. Edmond Chan said it is the first to demonstrate these effects in a real-world setting, rather than in a clinical trial.

“These were at actual allergists’ offices across the country, both community and academic settings,” he said.

“With all the real-world issues of booking appointments, of adhering to certain protocols, with kids getting sick and other things. It really did work.”

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Click to play video 'B.C. researchers make new recommendations on treating peanut allergies' B.C. researchers make new recommendations on treating peanut allergies
B.C. researchers make new recommendations on treating peanut allergies – Apr 17, 2019

Researchers found that after one year of treatment, nearly eight in 10 subjects were able to eat 15 peanuts without reacting.

Read more: New trial shows allergy treatment helps protect children against peanut reactions

The treatment method is known as ‘oral immunotherapy,’ and involves introducing a very small amount of the allergen to the patient, then gradually upping the dosage.

The goal, said researchers, is both to build up the patient’s tolerance to the point where they could eat peanuts if they wish and protect them from accidental exposure to the allergen.

In the study, 117 Canadian kids with peanut allergies, aged nine months to five years old were given a daily dose of 300 mg of peanut protein — about one peanut, or a quarter teaspoon of peanut butter.

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Read more: COMMENTARY: Is ‘oral immunotherapy’ the answer for young children with peanut allergies

At the end of a year, nearly 80 per cent of the children could eat about 15 peanuts, while 98 per cent could eat three to four peanuts without a reaction.

While about one in five kids did experience some sort of reaction throughout the course of the study, they were mostly mild or moderate, the authors said.

Two kids had epinephrine administered, but there were no reactions classified as “severe.”