Could a Patch Prevent Deadly Reactions in Kids with Peanut Allergies?

New research offers hope for the food allergy community.
DBV Technologies

For kids with peanut allergies and their parents, simple things many of us take for granted—like enjoying a friend's birthday party—can be terrifying. Even sending a child to school is anxiety-producing, although many schools have adopted a no-peanuts policy, including my daughter's preschool. Indeed, Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Today, "To avoid potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, people with peanut allergy must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter, which can be very stressful."

But now a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology offers hope for peanut allergy-sufferers under age 11. Research shows a wearable patch allowed about half of the 74 kids tested to eat peanut products without having a reaction, Today.com reports. Kids older than age 11 were not helped as much by the patch, which delivers peanuts proteins through the skin, and as explained by Today.com, basically helps to train the immune system not to overreact when peanuts are consumed.

Dr. Daniel Rotrosen of the NIAID elaborates on how the patch works, saying, "Epicutaneous immunotherapy aims to engage the immune system in the skin to train the body to tolerate small amounts of allergen, whereas other recent advances have relied on an oral route that appears difficult for approximately 10 to 15 percent of children and adults to tolerate."

The testing process took place over the course of a year, at the end of which, kids who received either a low-dose, or high-dose of the patch could tolerate 10 times the amount of peanuts than before.

It's worth noting the patch, called Viaskin, and made by DBV Technologies, is not FDA-approved at this time, and more testing is needed to make sure it's safe.

As Rotrosen said, this isn't the first study to look at how exposing kids to peanuts may help prevent reactions. It's been suggested that feeding children peanut products earlier in life is also effective. Of course, you should talk to your doctor before trying this.

But the bottom line is that any research that can help kids with peanut allergies is crucially important, since an anaphylactic reaction can lead to death if not treated promptly with epinephrine via an EpiPen.

And wouldn't the world be lovely if kids with peanut allergies, their parents, and their peers, didn't have to worry about the presence of peanut products, anywhere, at all?

What's your reaction to this study?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.

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