Exposure therapy effective in infants at-risk for peanut allergy
Researchers found that at-risk infants exposed to peanuts developed a long-term tolerance to peanuts, compared to those who avoided peanuts.
HealthDay News — Once a tolerance to peanuts has developed in children considered at high-risk for developing a peanut allergy, it seems to last, according to research published online March 4 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings were published to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, held from March 4 to 7 in Los Angeles.
The new study is an extension of the groundbreaking LEAP (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy) clinical trial. Last year, the trial indicated that feeding peanuts to at-risk infants for 60 months reduced their risk of developing a peanut allergy.
For this study, researchers followed 550 of the original 640 children for a 1 year period of peanut avoidance. Half of this group included previous peanut consumers. The other half had always avoided peanuts. After 12 months of peanut avoidance, only 5% of the original peanut consumers were found to be allergic, compared to 19% of the original peanut avoiders.
"This study offers reassurance that eating peanut-containing foods as part of a normal diet – with occasional periods of time without peanut – will be a safe practice for most children following successful tolerance therapy," Gerald Nepom, MD, PhD, the director of the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), the consortium behind the LEAP trial, said in an ITN news release. "The immune system appears to remember and sustain its tolerant state, even without continuous regular exposure to peanuts."
- Du Toit G, Sayre PH, Roberts G, et al. Effect of avoidance on peanut allergy after early peanut consumption. New Engl J Med. 2016; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514209