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Peanut Allergy May Not Be a Life Sentence

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Among the 85 patients who took the oral peanut challenge, close to half tolerated the challenge and were therefore considered to have outgrown their peanut allergy.

People with peanut allergy should be reevaluated regularly, perhaps every one to two years, "in order to identify those who have lost their allergy," Wood says. "Although a minority of peanut-allergic patients may outgrow their allergy ... it would make an enormous difference to not have to take precautions against peanut exposure. For a lot of peanut-allergic people, this issue runs their lives."

But if you are wondering if you or your child has outgrown a peanut allergy, the advice from the experts is, "Don't try this at home."

"If a patient has had no reaction for many years, it may be appropriate to get reevaluated to see if the allergy is still present," says Scott Sicherer, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Sicherer tells WebMD that reevaluation consists of an appointment with an allergist. The allergist reviews the patient's history and conducts a physical exam, then decides if an oral peanut challenge is appropriate.

Because of the risk of severe reaction if the allergy is still present, the challenge must be performed in a clinical setting, he says.

"These findings indicate that we can't just assume that peanut allergy needs to be forever," Marianne Frieri, MD, tells WebMD.

But like Wood and Sicherer, she stresses that a clinical setting is the proper place to reassess peanut allergy. Frieri, who was not involved in the current research, is the director of allergy and immunology training at Nassau University Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at State University of New York at Stonybrook.

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