OTCs in Action Episode 16: Probiotics vs Peanut Allergies


Decades from now, could the peanut-free table in school lunch rooms be a social relic of the early 2000s?

Today, peanuts are the most common cause of fatality owing to food-induced anaphylaxis. However, there is very exciting news that OTC probiotics may play a role in eliminating the allergy for many children. Researchers at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Parkville, Australia, have announced the successful trial of a treatment for peanut allergies. In the study, researchers gave more than 60 peanut allergic children either a placebo or a dose of a probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus), together with peanut protein in increasing amounts over an 18-month period. The result: More than 80% of children who received the oral immunotherapy treatment were able to tolerate peanuts at the end of the trial, compared to less than 4% of the placebo group. This is 20 times higher than the natural rate of resolution for peanut allergy. According to the announcement, “23 of 28 (82.1%) probiotic treated children and one of 28 (3.6%) placebo-treated children were able to include peanut in their diet at the end of the trial.”

Lead researcher, Professor Mimi Tang, said the study results are extremely exciting as they could potentially provide an effective treatment for food allergy: “In the study the combined delivery of probiotic and oral immunotherapy was a safe and effective treatment for peanut allergy; however, it is important to point out that this treatment must only be given under close medical supervision as we are giving peanut to children who are allergic to peanut and children did have allergic reactions. Nevertheless, the likelihood of success was high – if nine children were given probiotic and peanut therapy, seven would benefit.”

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