April 17 (UPI) -- It turns out there may be a good treatment for kids who suffer from peanut allergies.
About 90 percent of preschool children safely got to the maintenance stage of treatment about 22 weeks after being treated with oral immunotherapy, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
"Although there have been many clinical trials of peanut oral immunotherapy in older children, and one trial in preschoolers, there has been a lack of real-world data due to safety concerns of offering this treatment to preschoolers outside of a research setting," Lianne Soller, a research at the University of British Columbia and study author, said in a news release. "But our findings confirm in a real-world setting that this treatment is not only safe but is well-tolerated in a large group of preschool-aged children."
Oral immunotherapy starts off by giving a patient a small amount of the food their allergic to -- in this case, peanuts -- and then steadily increasing the amount of that food until they reach maximum dosage. This works to desensitize the person to the food to the point that it doesn't cause a dangerous, allergic reaction.
The researchers treated Canadian children between nine months and 5-years-old who have peanut allergies.
"We were impressed that among over 40,000 doses of peanut that were administered, only 12 resulted in reactions requiring epinephrine," said Edmond Chan, a researcher at the University of British Columbia and study senior author.
During the build-up portion after oral immunotherapy treatment, close to 68 percent of the kids still had at least one allergic reaction. But only 36.3 percent of those reactions were mild, while 31.1 percent were moderate.
"Many allergists do not believe oral immunotherapy should be offered outside of research settings, and have not routinely offered it as a therapy for peanut allergy in their clinics due to safety concerns," Chan said.
"We hope our data demonstrate that the treatment is safe in preschoolers, and could be offered to families of preschool children with a peanut allergy who ask for it. There appears to be a big difference in outcomes in preschoolers compared to older children," Chan added.