Thursday 9th May 2019
Immunotherapy works by slowing introducing small amounts of the problem allergen to the patient in two phases known as ‘initial’ or ‘up dosing’ and the ‘maintenance’ phase, with the aim of reducing allergic reactions following accidental exposure.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign welcomes the research paper by Chu et al which contributes to the science of food oral immunotherapy. This paper has claimed, through a systematic review of 12 randomised controlled trials, that undergoing peanut oral immunotherapy results in an increased chance of allergic reactions when compared to just avoiding peanuts.
We understand that this paper only provides a part of the immunotherapy story, with many of the trials included focussing mainly on the up-dosing stage of immunotherapy where patients are given an increasing dose of peanut over a long period of time. This is when most reactions occur, but are rare during the maintenance phase where peanut dose plateaus.
We would like to also make it clear that, when undergoing immunotherapy, there is a trade-off between the treatment of related side effects of the immunotherapy at home in a controlled environment with emergency medication available over accidental exposure outside the home.
Peanut allergy affects 1 in 50 children, with its prevalence increasing. Peanut immunotherapy can provide protection against reaction to a peanut eaten without warning or control.