Peanut allergy treatment could serve as a relief for young children, a new study says.
Research funded by the National Institutes of Health discovered that performing peanut oral therapy on children ages 1 to 3 "desensitized most of them to peanut and induced remission of peanut allergy in one-fifth," according to the study.
About 2 percent of children 17 and younger in the U.S., approximately 1.5 million individuals, are impacted by a peanut allergy. Many could suffer a fatal allergic reaction if they were to consume a peanut.
Dr. David Stukus, professor of clinical pediatrics and director of the Food Allergy Treatment Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital said the new finding, published in The Lancet journal, is "extremely exciting," per ABC News.
Nearly 150 children ages 1 to 3 took part in the study across five U.S. hospitals. Participants had to have experienced an allergic reaction after eating half a gram of peanut protein to be included.
In the study, participants were given increasing daily doses of peanut flour for 30 weeks. Children were selected at random to receive peanut flour or a placebo. Both were mixed with foods such as applesauce to conceal the taste. Participants went on to eat their daily doses of the placebo or the protein for another 2 years.
Those who could eat 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter without suffering an allergic reaction six months after the therapy were considered to be in remission and no longer allergic to peanuts.
"The youngest children and those who started the trial with lower levels of peanut-specific antibodies were most likely to achieve remission, the National Institutes of Health reported, noting that the trial is called IMPACT.
RELATED VIDEO: Family of Model Left Brain-Damaged After Allergic Reaction to Peanut Butter Pretzel Is Awarded $29.5 Million
"The landmark results of the IMPACT trial suggest a window of opportunity in early childhood to induce remission of peanut allergy through oral immunotherapy," said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. "It is our hope that these study findings will inform the development of treatment modalities that reduce the burden of peanut allergy in children." NIAID sponsored the trial and funded it through its Immune Tolerance Network.
While almost all of the children who consumed peanut flour experienced some sort of reaction during the study, many of them "were mild to moderate in severity," the National Institutes of Health shared.
A study co-author Stacie Jones, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Services, said, according to NBC News, that the research shows there's "a window of opportunity" for early treatment that could be beneficial in the long run.