In a study of 80 children ages 4 to 14 with well-documented peanut allergies, researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Arkansas Children's Hospital found that some children completely lost their potentially serious or life-threatening allergy to peanuts, and that among those who did, there was a low risk of allergy recurrence. The findings are published in the July issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"Although we once thought peanut allergy was a lifelong problem, we now believe certain children, namely those with low levels of allergy antibodies, may outgrow it," said senior author Robert Wood, M.D., a pediatric allergist and immunologist at the Children's Center. "Because of these findings, and the tremendous burden peanut allergies can cause for children and their families, I recommend that children with peanut allergy be retested on a regular basis, every one or two years."
The researchers found that children were more likely to outgrow their peanut allergy if they had low levels (less than 5 kilounits of antibody per liter) of peanut-specific IgE, the antibodies produced by the immune system that cause allergic reactions. These antibodies can be measured with a blood test that is widely available. Although a high level of peanut IgE (more than 5 to 10 kilounits) is typically associated with a clinical allergic reaction, it is not possible to predict the severity of the reaction simply based on IgE levels alone.
The 80 children in the study, all of whom had IgE levels of 5 or less,
underwent an oral peanut challenge, a common allergy diagnostic tool in
which subjects are fed peanut products in a safe clinical setting and
watched carefully for symptoms, such as hives, coughing, difficulty
Contact: Jessica Collins
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions