Peanut allergies, which are one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks, can affect all aspects of a child’s life.

Dr. Sandra Hong with Cleveland Clinic is one of the authors of a study researching how one treatment may help. Oral immunotherapy is where researchers expose young children under the age of 1 who have been diagnosed with a food allergy to allergens. 

Hong said that of the children who took part in their peanut oral immunotherapy study, 91% resulted in being able to tolerate large amounts of peanuts without a severe reaction. She said the rest were still able to be exposed to multiple peanuts at a time.

“We get very tiny amounts slowly built up into their system and we need to do it in our offices,” Hong said.

 Hong said food allergies can also lead to isolation or even bullying.

“They can spend a lot of time worried about having a true allergic, life-threatening, allergic reactions. It can be really difficult for these kids,” Hong said. “We can’t have parties in the classroom anymore, or we’re not allowed to have the really fun treats any more because there’s someone that has a milk allergy or a peanut allergy.”

Researchers believe the results mean those children may not have to worry about accidental peanut exposures.

“They are at an ice cream shop and they want to get ice cream but as long as they avoid the peanut containing ones they’ll be able to tolerate small amounts of contamination,” Hong said.

Hong said it’s critical that oral immunotherapy is only done under the care of a trained allergist because it can trigger allergic reactions. She said they’re studying its use in helping with other food allergies in addition to peanuts.

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