New research predicts which children will outgrow peanut allergies
The Sector > Research > Researchers now able to predict which children are likely to outgrow peanut allergy

Researchers now able to predict which children are likely to outgrow peanut allergy

by Freya Lucas

May 16, 2024

The presence of anaphylaxis in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings can lead to multiple challenges for educators and leaders. 


Peanut allergies are one of the more prevalent allergies in children, however new work from Australian researchers holds promise, with the discovery that changes in antibody levels over time can predict which children are likely to outgrow their peanut allergy.


Led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the study found that two thirds of children with a peanut allergy remain allergic by the age of 10 years. But for those who did naturally outgrow their allergy, the majority achieved this by six years old.


The study was the first to use antibodies as biomarkers to identify persistent or a resolved peanut allergy during the first 10 years of life in children who naturally outgrew their allergy without clinical intervention. 


The study involved 156 infants in Melbourne with challenge-confirmed peanut allergy from the HealthNuts study who were followed up at ages four, six and 10 years with questionnaires, skin prick tests, blood tests and oral food challenges.


Peanut allergy resolved in a third of children by 10 years, with nearly all who outgrew the allergy doing so between the ages of four and six years.


“Little was known before this research about whether antibodies could be used as biomarkers of naturally resolving peanut allergy during the primary school years,” MCRI researcher Kayla Parker said. 


“We found the longitudinal changes were more useful in predicting those children on the path to peanut allergy resolution than relying on a single snapshot at one timepoint.”


Ms Parker hopes the findings will help clinicians better identify which children were likely to have an ongoing peanut allergy and ensure they received ongoing education and management.


“Children allergic to peanuts who have decreasing antibody markers may benefit from additional visits with their allergist to determine the right time for follow-up food challenges to confirm if their peanut allergy has resolved,” she said.


“Those with high or increasing levels of these biomarkers are less likely to spontaneously outgrow their peanut allergy and could be prioritised for potential early treatment options if available.”


Currently there is no routinely available treatment for peanut allergy and children should maintain strict peanut allergen avoidance, however innovative treatment options are available through food allergy clinical trials, which are listed on the National Allergy Centre of Excellence’s Allergy Studies Directory.


To read the study in full please see here

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