Boiled peanuts could help overcome childhood allergy

Boiled peanuts could help overcome childhood allergy

Boiling peanuts for up to 12 hours could help overcome children’s allergic reactions, according to the results of a clinical trial which found up to 80% of children with peanut allergy became desensitised to eating peanuts.

The study, was conducted by at Flinders University and South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute and published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy. Scientists tested whether a therapy delivering sequential doses of boiled peanuts, followed by roasted peanuts, may help children overcome their peanut allergies.

The work built on previous research conducted by Professor Tim Chataway of Flinders University, a senior author of the paper, showing that heat affects the protein structure and allergic properties of peanuts, meaning they were less likely to cause a severe allergic reaction.

‘Small and increasing doses of boiled nuts were first given to children to partially desensitise them, and when they showed no signs of an allergic reaction, increasing doses of roasted peanuts were then provided to increase their tolerance in the next stage of treatment,’ said Dr Chataway.

To achieve this multi-step process known as oral immunotherapy, the researchers asked 70 peanut-allergic children (6-18 years) to consume peanuts boiled for 12 hours for 12 weeks, 2 hour boiled peanuts for 20 weeks, and roasted peanuts for 20 weeks. This novel two-step therapy was tested in anticipation of achieving daily targets of participants consuming 12 roasted peanuts without allergic reactions.

The results show 56 of the 70 (80%) participants became desensitised to the target dose of peanuts. Treatment-related adverse events were reported in 43 (61%) of participants, however only three withdrew from the trial as a result, demonstrating a favourable safety profile.

‘Our clinical trial shows promising early signs in demonstrating that boiling peanuts may provide a safe and effective method for treating peanut allergic children with sequential doses of boiled and roasted peanuts over an extended period of time,’ said Professor Luke Grzeskowiak, lead author of the study.

‘Unfortunately, oral immunotherapy doesn’t work for everyone, and we are in the process of improving our understanding of how these treatments work and what factors can influence how people respond to treatment. This will be really important for assessing individual suitability for treatment and improve treatment decisions in the future.’