Almost 80 percent of 40 children with suspected or known peanut allergy aged 9 to 36 months participated in the OIT study, which involved eating small, gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein each day.
Researchers found that low- and high-dose OIT were safe and equally effective at suppressing allergic reaction to peanuts. Although almost all participants experienced some side effects, they were generally mild, requiring little or no treatment.
After receiving OIT treatment for 29 months on average, the preschoolers then avoided peanut completely for four weeks before it was reintroduced into their diets.
The OIT-treated children were compared with a control group of 154 peanut-allergic children who had avoided peanut. Researchers found that the OIT-treated children were 19 times more likely to incorporate peanut into their diets without having allergic reactions.
The preschoolers received either high-dose peanut OIT with a target daily dose of 3,000 milligrams of peanut protein or a low-dose regimen with a target dose of 300 milligrams.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were trying to discover whether younger children receiving OIT would be able to safely eat peanuts, since their immune systems may be more responsive to treatment.
Earlier studies with older allergic children had shown that peanut OIT can confer some protection against potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis triggered by peanut consumption.