The Therapy That’s Helping People Suffering From Food Allergies

— Is it possible to get over a peanut allergy? In Stanford Medicine Magazine, Melanie Thernstrom reports on how oral immunotherapy (OIT) is helping to fix food allergies. Thernstrom’s son Kieran was allergic to eggs and nuts before going through OIT, and now can eat the foods without his parents worrying:

“For everyone who has stayed in the study, the treatment has been 100 percent successful,” says Nadeau. “It turns out that everyone’s immune system is capable of adapting — and surprisingly, it is as true of adults as children.” She and her team now have an eight-year study of OIT — the longest record in the United States — in which they found that everyone who was compliant with the treatment and continued to eat the foods has kept their allergies from returning.

What happens if the patients stop eating the foods altogether? Nadeau recently published the results of a withdrawal study, where 20 formerly peanut-allergic patients who had completed two years of OIT and were able to eat a full serving (1 tablespoon of peanut butter or 20 peanuts) without any reaction stopped eating peanuts altogether. After three months, more than half (13 out of 20) had regained the allergy to peanuts, although their reactions were no longer as severe. By six months, almost everyone (17 of 20) had regained the allergy.

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Photo: Daniella Segura