Predicting which children will no longer have peanut allergy is not only possible, but it can be done reliably and robustly, new research suggests.
At Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, researchers discovered that a quarter of the children will tolerate even the most dangerous of food allergents by age four. To diagnose allergies, researchers use skin prick and blood tests.
“But we have never known if these tests are truly reliable, because it has never been tested in a whole of population approach,” lead researcher Katie Allen said.
In the study, more than 150 infants involved in the HealthNuts study were diagnosed for allergies with increased reliability and robustly, and these tests turned out as effective screening tool.
Professor Allen said the study showed children with a larger welt on their arm from the skin prick test or high levels of antibodies in their blood were less likely to outgrow their peanut allergy. The findings further the hopes of the institute to reduce the number of food challenges children were subjected to, such as asking patients to eat tiny amounts of nut to determine their allergy.
“For patients, it means that they will be able to go to their doctor and get either a skin prick test or a blood test and that will be able to reliably predict their initial prognosis and predict whether or not they will outgrow the allergy,” she said.
With this protocol available, doctors can prioritize high-risk patients for new treatments.
Peanut allergy has the most severe reactions, and it affects an estimated 3 percent of children.