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Small peanut doses may be useful in combating allergy

March 19, 2009 by  

Small peanut doses may be useful in combating allergyA new study suggests that peanut elimination or antihistamine drugs may soon be unnecessary because an alternative approach to treating peanut allergies has been showing promising results.

Doctors from Duke University Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital took a homeopathic-like approach a few years ago when they started the experiments leading to the results recently reported at the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology meeting in Washington, DC.

They administered a carefully controlled daily dose of peanuts to allergic children, starting with as little as 1/1000 of a peanut. After several months, the children were able to consume up to 15 peanuts per day before an adverse reaction began.

The children continued on that daily therapy for several years and are still monitored closely.

Specifically, the researchers looked at the levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), a protein the body makes in response to peanut allergens.

Children in the study typically had IgE levels greater than 25 but they declined to less than 2 by the end of the study, according to Dr. Wesley Burks, chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke.

Despite these promising results, the doctors caution that more research needs to be done to ensure that the changes resulted from a true immune response and that the children did not simply outgrow their allergies.

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