Dr Andrew Clark, Consultant in Paediatric Allergy, and Dr Pamela Ewan, Consultant Allergist, both based at CUH, are leading a team that has helped peanut allergic children eat peanuts safely again, using immunotherapy. The new treatment, which is a world first, gradually and carefully increases the amount of peanut protein the body can tolerate and has been successful in nine out of ten children.
Says Dr Clark, “We’ve shown fantastic results, with 80 to 90 per cent of children being able to tolerate eating peanuts regularly after treatment. Before treatment, children and their parents would check every food label and avoiding eating out in restaurants.”
Affecting two in every 100 children, peanut allergy results in 15,000 emergency hospital visits. “The only current ‘treatments’ are avoidance of peanut-containing food and carrying adrenaline injectors to treat reactions,” says Dr Ewan.
The trial, carried out over five and a half years in coordination with the Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, and Evelyn Trust, saw 7 to 15-year-olds eat daily doses of peanut protein, starting with a tiny dose and slowly building up as they trained their bodies to tolerate the equivalent of five whole peanuts.