I heard on the radio that there is a new approach to managing children who have an allergic reaction to peanuts. Obviously I’m scared to accidentally make a serious error. Can you explain how the new desensitizing process works.
Peanut Allergies what do I need to understand about the latest findings?
Answer from Jill Wheatcroft;
Thanks for your question.
Presently the only treatment for peanut allergies is either avoiding them completely or taking medication to manage the symptoms but hopefully, in the future, this may change. Recently there have been a number of medical research trials both in the American and in the United Kingdom. The US one is called AR101which is being written about extensively at the moment. The UK trial is being conducted by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust using ‘peanut immunotherapy’.
Peanut immunotherapy is where children are exposed to gradually increasing amounts of peanut flour orally so they build up a tolerance to peanuts. This is done in a very controlled way under medical supervision to ensure the safety of the children taking part. The UK study looked at children from 7 years to 16 years who were randomly divided into two groups, one group was given gradually increasing amounts of peanut flour while the control group was monitored receiving their usual care.
The study found that after six months 84-91% of the children given peanut flour could safely tolerate 800mg of peanut protein which is the equivalent of five peanuts, and at least 25 times as much as they could tolerate before treatment. Children in the control group could not tolerate peanuts at all.
Five peanuts may not sound a lot and they certainly will not be eating peanut butter, however, this process should allow children a much more normal diet as a lot of foods are labelled trace of nuts.
Whilst very promising for the future the reach is still at an early stage as long-term follow up is needed to see if the children remain desensitised.
All of the tolerance tests and dose increases were carried out in a research facility with the children under medical supervision, so they could receive specialist medical treatment immediately if they experienced a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Severe allergic reactions can be fatal if not treated immediately. The exposure process should only be carried out under medical supervision.
In the future once more trails have been undertaken the hope is that oral immunotherapy may be available in NHS allergy clinic.
Hope that helps. If you are interested in understanding more about how to manage Anaphylaxis Riverside Cares offers a small group training session.
Jill Wheatcroft MSc, BSc Community Children’s Nursing, RSCN, Post Grad Dip Academic Practice, First Aid Instructor, A1 Assessor has extensive experience as a Paediatric Nursing Sister and Lecturer in Child Health at City University. Her depth of knowledge of childcare in home, community and hospital settings enables her to support others working in the childcare sector, as well as providing sound well thought out advice and support for families, underpinned by her extensive knowledge. Jill, co-founder of Riverside Cares, established 1989, has always been passionate about ensuring children’s safety and well being.
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