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Study says peanut allergy treatment safe with specialist

A new study suggests preschoolers who are allergic to peanuts can be treated safely by eating small amounts of peanut protein with guidance from a medical specialist. Senior author and pediatric allergist Dr. Edmond Chan says many allergists shy away from oral immunotherapy for fear it might trigger a serious allergic reaction. However, the study found just one of 270 children who received oral immunotherapy had a "severe" reaction. Meanwhile, 11 children, or four per cent, received symptom-relieving epinephrine. Oral immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment in which a patient is directed to eat small amounts of an allergenic food to build up tolerance. Chan says the treatment has found success in clinical trials but Canadian allergists remain split in opinion. He added that the treatment should only be offered by an allergy specialist, not a family physician alone. Chan is among those who offer oral immunotherapy, believing that peanut allergies are very treatable, especially among young children.

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