Got a peanut allergy? Your treatment may not protect you, according to a new report.
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada recently conducted a study, published in The Lancet, to determine the effectiveness of peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT), an experimental treatment meant to desensitize patients with the allergy over time.
To do so, they examined the results of 12 clinical trials on OIT. The trials included more than 1,000 patients with an average age of 9.
After analyzing the results, they found those using OIT suffered more side effects compared to those who avoided peanut products altogether. Those on OIT were three times more likely to experience anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause constriction of your airwaves, nausea, dizziness or low blood pressure.
The individuals on OIT also reported using epinephrine more.
“When you look at the data, it is clear that people who were on peanut oral immunotherapy, known as OIT, had many more allergic reactions compared to those that only avoided peanut, both mild ones such as vomiting all the way to severe reactions like anaphylaxis. This was despite oral immunotherapy being able to cause desensitization,” coauthor Derek Chu said in a statement. “Looking at all the studies, we consistently found that the protection from oral immunotherapy was incomplete and variable, with people being able to eat peanut in the clinic, but, in the real-world they ended up having reactions.”
The scientists believe the treatment works in a clinical setting, because it controlled. But in the real life, people’s eating patterns, fitness routines or even menstruation can affect how it works.
They also noted OIT, compared to allergen avoidance, may work better after a year of treatment, but the risk of anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions is still there.
“While oral immunotherapy to peanut will be a beneficial treatment for some of our patients, this approach comes with a risk of reactions, and many patients may opt for avoidance. Peanut allergic individuals need choice and accurate information,” coauthor Susan Waserman added.
The team said more research is need to to find interventions that work for those with a peanut allergy, especially children.