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The treatment involves eating tiny amounts of peanut protein sprinkled from capsules over food every day for several months. The idea is to desensitize patients to peanuts over time. The results of a clinical trial showed that, after taking the treatment for about a year, two-thirds of the 372 children tested could eat the equivalent of two peanuts without suffering an allergic reaction.
Not all kids were helped by the drug. About 12 percent of children taking the treatment in the trial dropped out because of side effects. But of those who remained, only 4 percent had severe allergic reactions to peanut exposure by the end of the study, according to the findings to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Trial participants had to continue avoiding all other peanut exposure in their diets, carry around an epinephrine injector in case they had a reaction, and rest for two hours without falling asleep after each treatment. About 14 percent of kids taking the treatment had to use epinephrine during the trial.
You won't be able to buy the treatment yet. The company behind it, Aimmune Therapeutics, still has to get the Food and Drug Administration's approval to sell the drug. That could take until the end of next year, a spokesperson told the New York Times.
So far, there's no information about how much the treatment will cost, or whether insurance plans will cover it.
Peanut allergies are among the most common types of food allergies, and a leading cause of death from food-allergic reactions in the United States. To help prevent allergies, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends introducing babies to peanut products early if they're at risk of developing a peanut allergy. Always talk with your doctor first.
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