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The latest on peanut allergies

The latest on peanut allergiesSome good news and some bad news for those with kids with peanut allergy and no, it has nothing to do with the expanded peanut butter product recalls.

The good news

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital report a treatment for peanut allergies that seem to work, at least for a small group of children. The treatment is quite simple: it entails giving children little amounts of peanuts everyday, which is then gradually increased. They started with doses as low as 1/1000 of a peanut. After 8 to 10 months, the children were eating up to 15 peanuts per day. The therapy continued for several years and after 2 and a half years, some kids were already taken off the treatment and could continue eating peanuts like other kids without peanut allergy. It is hypothesized that incremental exposure to peanut allergens can change the immune system’s response to the point of desensitization. During the study, the children were monitored closely for adverse signs and any potential changes in their immune system via skin, blood and immune studies as well as levels of. immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the blood.

The doctors, however, warn against trying this therapy unsupervised by a medical expert. It has to be determined very early in the study whether a child is suited for the therapy or not. Some people are just too sensitive to peanut allergens that trying this out can be dangerous, even life-threatening.

The not-so-good news

An Australian study indicates that some Australian parents lack peanut allergy awareness. The study looked at kindergarten aged children in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Some figures that came out from the study are:

  • 3.8% of 5-year olds in ACT have peanut allergy history, considered to be high.
  • 74% of local schools are aware of pupils’ allergies.
  • 76% of local schools are ready with a management procedure in case an allergic reaction occurs.

So far, so good. However, aside from the high incidence of allergy, the study found two major things of concern, namely:

First, action on food allergy is related to how worried the parents are about the allergy. It goes without saying that parents who are not worried are not vigilant about the onset of allergy symptoms.

Second, it was observed that many parents do not react appropriately when allergic reactions start. The inappropriate actions are due to lack of peanut allergy awareness and include the following

  • Parents would watch and wait for the reaction to subside.
  • Parents would induce vomiting in the child.
  • Parents would apply calamine lotion to the skin.

The right actions should be:

  • Oral antihistamines should be given to child when allergic reactions occur.
  • If the child develop severe anaphylactic reaction (breathing difficulty, wheezing), an adrenalin auto-injector is necessary.
  • In any case, the child should give taken to the doctor immediately.

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