Progress Against Peanut Allergies
Oral Immunotherapy May Desensitize Allergic Children; Skin Test May Predict Who Will Outgrow
The Remission Study
Allen and her colleagues followed 267 children with peanut allergies, some for years, to see if the size of the wheal over time could predict remission.
The children entered the study at an average age of 14 months -- the time when most infants first show peanut sensitivity, Allen says.
"We looked at the size of the skin prick wheal and followed them," Allen says. Once the size of the wheal that came after a prick fell sufficiently, the scientists would give a food challenge to see if the child had outgrown the allergy.
"We found that 20% of them outgrew it by 5 years of age,'' Allen says.
"We found the best predictor of remission was a falling skin prick test ... every year the reaction got a little smaller," she says.
The size of the wheal when children are younger can predict remission, too, Allen says.
"If the skin prick wheal is greater than 6 millimeters before 2 years of age, they are 1.5 times less likely to become tolerant," she tells WebMD.
The severity of the initial reaction, however, did not predict tolerance. "Kids with severe initial reactions are as likely to outgrow it," she says, as those whose first reaction was milder.
The results offer valuable information not just for parents whose children do outgrow it, she says, but also for those whose children are not likely to and therefore may need closer follow-up.