A Duke University study recently tested the effectiveness of an allergy treatment used at a local clinic. The La Crosse (Wisconsin) clinic has been using drops under the tongue to treat peanut allergies in children for nearly three decades, according to the La Crosse Tribune (http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_c0fb7ba2-4d2d-11e0-9b2c-00…). The Duke study showed that the treatment, known as sublingual immunotherapy, is safe and may significantly curb children’s allergic responses to peanuts.

The study is the first of its kind conducted in the U.S. It found that the allergy drops desensitized children to peanuts. Children treated with the drops could tolerate up to the equivalent of six to seven peanuts before exhibiting an allergic reaction, compared with less than a peanut for those in the placebo group. Dr. Wesley Burks, an allergist working at Duke University, said “I wasn’t surprised by the differences in the two groups, but the significance of differences.”

Although the drops are still considered experimental, they have been used by several local clinics for years. Dr. Mary Morris, a physician with Allergy Associates, said some studies performed in Europe have shown sublingual immunotherapy to be both effective and safe.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the hope is that dose escalation could allow children to be able to ingest a larger amount of peanuts. Dr. Burks also said that the study also provided hope that similar methods could be used to treat other food allergies. More research must be done, however, before the treatment becomes more widely available. “We have to continue to make sure treatment is safe and effective,” said Dr. Morris.

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