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'Outgrown' a peanut allergy? Eat more peanuts!

Children who outgrow peanut allergy have a slight chance of recurrence, but researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center report that the risk is much lower in children who frequently eat peanuts or peanut products.

In a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the Hopkins team recommends that children who outgrow peanut allergy eat concentrated forms of peanut products, such as peanut butter, shelled peanuts or peanut candy, at least once a month in order to maintain tolerance.

"The exact mechanism by which peanut allergy may recur is not known, but we know that the children in our study who ate concentrated forms of peanut frequently had a considerably lower chance of having a recurrence of their allergy," says Robert Wood, M.D., the study's senior author and a pediatric allergist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

According to Wood, an estimated 20 percent of children stop having allergic reactions to peanuts as they grow older. Few studies have been able to clearly assess the rate of recurrence because many such children, understandably, tend to avoid eating peanut.

"It is common because of an ongoing dislike of peanut or an ongoing fear of a reaction," Wood adds. "That is reasonable because there is a risk of recurrence and reactions could be worse."

As a result, Wood says he and his team continue to recommend that children who eat peanut infrequently or in limited amounts carry epinephrine injections at all times, and that they continue with annual blood tests to monitor allergy antibodies and assess the risk of recurrence.

Wood also recommends that those children who do eat concentrated peanut products frequently carry epinephrine injections for at least one year after passing an oral food challenge, a highly accurate allergy test in which the child eats small amounts of the suspected allergen in a clinical setting and is watched carefully for sympto
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Contact: Jessica Collins
jcolli31@jhmi.edu
410-516-4570
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
9-Nov-2004


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