New Peanut allergy research may reduce allergist appointment waiting time

New Australian research by The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and University of Melbourne has discovered a two-pronged blood test that will confirm peanut allergies. This will eliminate the need to put children through risky oral food challenge tests. It is thought to be less risky and more accurate than the current testing of peanut allergies.

Peanut is the most common nut allergy. It affects about 3 per cent of Australian children under the age of two. Many parents avoid giving their children peanuts for fear of severe allergic reactions. Recent reports have revealed the "peanut parties" where parents feed their children peanuts in the car parks of hospitals so they could head straight in if they did have a reaction.

The new testing process includes using a blood sample to screen for a peanut allergy. It then involves using the same blood sample to test for a peanut protein called “Arah2”. This is the most common peanut allergen detected in children and the most common allergen overall in Australia. If the blood is found to have Arah2 in it, a peanut allergy is confirmed and no further testing is needed.

Researchers carried out the tests on a group of 5300 infants from across metropolitan Melbourne. About 200 of those who had peanut allergies confirmed through oral tests were accurately diagnosed by the two-stage screening process.  This would reduce the over-diagnosis of peanut allergies, therefore reducing the number of people referred to specialists for further testing.

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