A New Approach to Preventing Peanut Allergies

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For many years, if a peanut allergy was suspected in a young patient, the treatment recommended involved limiting exposure to peanuts. Nowadays, that thinking has begun to change. So what do we know about peanut allergies, and how will they be treated going forward?

What do we know about peanut allergies?

Peanuts are responsible for more adverse food reactions than any other food. Due to the severity of reactions, peanut allergies often affect a child and their family’s quality of life –as they typically require having injectable epinephrine, a medical alert bracelet, an action plan and a peanut-free environment. Children rarely outgrow peanut allergies.

How have peanut allergies been treated in the past?

For the past 20 years, the recommendation to prevent peanut allergies was to avoid peanuts during pregnancy, lactation and for the first 3 years of a child’s life. The restriction of peanut exposure was meant to protect children from developing a peanut allergy.

How are doctors and allergists approaching peanut allergies now?

Recent studies have shown that the introduction of peanuts (or other highly allergenic foods) early in a child’s life may actually prevent the occurrence of allergies.

A recent study called “The Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP)” study showed that for children prone to peanut allergies, early exposure to peanuts in a controlled setting led to significantly reduced rates of developing peanut allergies.

As a long-standing, dedicated team of pediatric allergists, physicians at Riley at IU Health have adapted our practice to support the latest findings in an effort to offer children a better quality of life – and ultimately reduce the incidence of peanut allergy.

For children, under one year of age at increased risk for peanut allergies because of symptoms like severe eczema or egg allergy, skin testing is recommended. Skin testing is a process through which doctors are able to determine if someone is sensitized to a specific food. If the skin test is negative or less than four millimeter in size, we would consider a peanut challenge in the office. Depending on the results, our doctors would work with the family to establish a plan for continued peanut exposure.

Why Riley at IU Health?

As a dedicated pediatric allergy office, Riley at IU Health is an expert in treating peanut allergies in kids, maintaining one of the largest national databases on children with peanut allergies from a single pediatric allergy practice. Offering food challenge appointments at both Riley at IU Health in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. and Riley at IU Health North Hospital in Carmel, Ind., Riley at IU Health offers the safest environment, as additional pediatric support services are always close by.

Ask your primary care physician for a referral to Riley at IU Health Allergy if you suspect your child may have or be at risk for developing a peanut allergy. To find a primary care physician, visit Riley at IU Health.

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