Peanut Allergy: More than avoidance

Dr. Crosby

By: Kara Crosby, MD

Peanut allergy is on the rise.  Roughly 2% or 1.2 million children and teens in the U.S. are estimated to have peanut allergy.  This is more than a 20% increase from 2010. Peanut allergy is typically life-long and is the leading cause of food-related allergic reactions.  Until this point, strict avoidance and management of reactions were the only treatment options for peanut allergic individuals. 

The first treatment for peanut allergy, Palforzia, was recently approved by the FDA for children 4-17 years old.  This type of therapy is called oral immunotherapy or OIT. It involves desensitization or slowly increasing the amount of peanut protein that a person is able to tolerate.  OIT is not a cure for peanut allergy. It is a daily life-long therapy.  Although some patients undergoing OIT can ingest peanuts and peanut products regularly, the goal is to provide “bite protection,” which would reduce the severity of symptoms when accidental ingestions occur.  The FDA approval of Palforzia is an exciting development which will help support the expansion of therapeutic options for food allergy.

Another important aspect of therapy is to improve the quality of life of peanut allergic patients and families. Many of our patients and families report a tremendous psychosocial burden associated with peanut allergy.  The anxiety about accidental ingestions often dominates families’ daily life. OIT provides a much desired treatment option in these patients.

Although this Palforzia product is new, peanut OIT has a long safety and efficacy track record.  While there are risks associated with therapy including anaphylaxis, it has been used successfully in clinical trials and by many allergists using commercial products across the county.  Colorado Allergy and Asthma Centers is currently offering peanut oral immunotherapy through our own protocol adapted from the work and experience of our well-respected colleagues.  

If you are interested in learning more about peanut OIT, please call to schedule an appointment.