Find what you were looking for? Share your thoughts with a short survey

Nut allergy study offers hope to families

A study co-sponsored by King’s College London, Evelina London Children's Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has found that children who are allergic to one type of nut could safely eat, on average, nine other types of nuts.

Peanut allergyPeanut, tree nut and sesame allergies are responsible for most life-threatening food allergic reactions. The Pronuts study investigated whether, in a child with one type of nut allergy, other nuts could be introduced into their diet using a technique called ‘oral food challenge’ (OFC). This involves introducing different food types one by one under medical supervision.

As part of the study, children with an allergy to one type of nut were tested for their allergies to other types of nuts and sesame seed. They then underwent a series of ‘challenges’ with these nuts and sesame seed under strict observation.

Children were then asked to introduce the nuts that they were not allergic to regularly into their diet, which is part of the follow-up study for the Pronuts study.

Dr Helen Brough, consultant in paediatric allergy at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and honorary senior lecturer at King’s College London, led the study. She said:

For children with a nut allergy, previous advice has been to cut out all other nuts from the diet and often also sesame seed. Our study shows that with a careful programme of introduction under medical supervision, parents of nut allergic children can find out exactly what nuts their children can eat safely and what nuts they are allergic to. By understanding a child’s nut allergies better, the programme ensures that their diet doesn’t need to be limited unnecessarily to avoiding all nuts and sesame seed.
Parents need to be aware that the programme involves hospital visits and tests, and that the introduction of allergens happens under careful medical supervision. Parents of children with allergies should seek medical advice and shouldn’t try to replicate this programme at home.

Rajesh Karimbath’s two children took part in the study. Akira, five [pictured above], and Aaryan, 10, both had nut allergies, however, since taking part in the Pronuts study, Akira’s cashew allergy has gone completely, while tests have confirmed Aaryan is only allergic to hazelnuts and pecans, and can eat all other types of nut safely.

The results of the Pronuts study are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In addition to showing that children with one nut allergy can safely eat, on average, nine other nut types, it shows that 60% of children with one nut allergy will have another, and that certain nut allergies are more commonly grouped together. The study was part of a wider programme of work at Evelina London Children’s Hospital to understand how best to treat and even prevent children’s allergies.

To read the full story, visit the Evelina London Children’s Healthcare website.

Our Women and Children’s Institute builds on the strong reputation of King’s Health Partners children's and women’s medicine and medical research, with a methodology-based research strategy designed to complement the range of disciplinary expertise.