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Could a patch alleviate toddlers' peanut allergies?

A Phase 3 trial is showing some promise that children as young as age 1 can be treated for peanut allergies.
Could a patch alleviate toddlers' peanut allergies?
Posted at 12:16 PM, May 11, 2023

DBV Technologies released new findings in the New England Journal of Medicine this week of a Phase 3 trial indicating its new patch is an effective way to alleviate peanut allergies among toddlers.

The trial involved 362 children ages 1-3. DBV Technologies concluded the Viaskin Peanut patch was superior to the placebo in desensitizing children to peanuts and increasing the peanut dose that triggered allergic symptoms. 

Essentially, a small level of peanut protein, 250 µg, was given to children through the patch daily for a year. 

The study found that twice the percentage of children using the patch were desensitized to peanuts. Overall, 67% of the children were desensitized to peanuts, compared to 33.5% in the placebo group. 

By desensitizing toddlers to peanuts, DBV Technology said it decreases the likelihood a child experiences an allergic reaction following accidental peanut exposure.

But those results did not come without some possible side effects. The study found that children using the patch were three times more likely to encounter a serious adverse event, compared to those on a placebo. Anaphylaxis happened among 7.8% of children using the patch, compared to 3.4% among those on a placebo. 

SEE MORE: Treating peanut allergy with peanut exposure might up reaction risk

"I see peanut–allergic patients in my clinical practice daily. I speak with parents who are experiencing increased anxiety and a decreased quality of life due to fear of life-threatening reactions," said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt who specializes in allergy and immunology pediatrics at Children's Hospital Colorado and is lead author of the study. "This publication shows that, if approved, the Viaskin Peanut patch has the potential to give new hope to toddlers and their families who currently have no approved treatment options and must instead rely on avoidance, which can severely impact quality of life."

The Cleveland Clinic says that 1 in 50 children in the U.S. have a peanut allergy. About 20% of those with peanut allergies do eventually outgrow them. 

Common symptoms of peanut allergies include diarrhea, difficulty breathing, hives or skin rash, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, and swelling, usually in the tongue or lips, the Cleveland Clinic said. 

Although there is no cure for peanut allergies, they can sometimes be prevented at an early age. The Cleveland Clinic says that 17% of babies who never consumed foods that contained peanuts develop peanut allergies by age 5. For babies who consumed foods with peanuts, only 3% experience a peanut allergy by age 5.

The FDA also approved in 2020 Palforzia, a medication that can be given to children as young as age 4 to reduce the risk of peanut allergies. 

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