FOUR hundred babies at high risk for peanut allergy are needed for a trial of a medically-supervised “peanut clinic” to be run at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
The trial begins next year and parents are encouraged to ask their GP or child health nurse for a referral.
Michael O’Sullivan, a consultant immunologist at Fiona Stanley Hospital and PMH, will lead the study.
Children have an increased risk of developing a peanut allergy if they have eczema, an allergy to eggs, or a strong family history of allergies, Dr Sullivan said.
He said early exposure to peanut products was known to reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy.
Current guidelines recommend children who have a high risk of developing a peanut allergy eat peanut products from as early as four months old.
However, just 20 per cent of these children were eating peanut products within the optimal timeframe due to parent apprehension.
A child who did not react to initial exposure was unlikely to react on subsequent exposures provided they continued to eat products two or three times a week at home, Dr Sullivan said.
WA acting chief medical officer Audrey Koay said peanut allergy was the most common cause of severe food allergy in children and rates had risen steadily over the past 20 years so there were patient and health-cost benefits that could arise from the study.
Dr Sullivan’s study is one of nine awarded funding from the Department of Health, announced today.