Allergic to peanuts? Avoidance is safest: new study

New research co-authored by researchers out of McMaster University suggests that the risks of oral immunotherapy (OIT) as a treatment for peanut allergy are greater than the risks associated with avoiding peanuts.

Dr. Derek Chu, a fellow in clinical immunology and allergy, and researchers Drs Susan Waserman and Manel Jordana collaborated with international colleagues on the study, published April 25, 2019, in The Lancet.

These researchers analyzed 12 studies of the desensitization treatment known as OIT, in which patients become desensitized to an allergenic food by consuming that food in very small but gradually larger amounts. The 12 studies followed more than 1,000 patients with peanut allergy for up to almost six years.

“The data clearly showed that people on peanut OIT had many more allergic reactions than those who avoided peanut,” says Dr. Chu in the McMaster University media release. “And this was true of mild reactions, such as vomiting, all the way to severe reactions, like anaphylaxis.”

“While OIT will be beneficial for some of our patients, the approach comes with a risk of reactions,” adds Dr. Waserman, an allergist and professor of medicine at McMaster University. “Peanut-allergic individuals need choice and accurate information, which should include this study.”

Dr. Chu is an AllerGen trainee and Drs Jordana and Waserman are AllerGen network investigators. AllerGen did not fund this research.

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