Clinicians at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital have discovered a less invasive way to detect severe allergic reactions to peanuts through a simple breathing and blood test.
The project sought to identify antibodies specific to peanut proteins and exhaled nitric oxide in predicting the severity of a reaction prior to eating a peanut.
Immunologist Dr Rhani Bhatia says the results may help predict what children should not proceed with a food test.
“It’s a combination of a breathing and blood test,” she said.
“The blood test looks at specific antibodies to certain proteins in peanuts, and that test has been available.
“What we have done differently is we have tried to combine that assessment with a breathing test, which determines allergic inflammation in your lungs.
“So, both the tests in combination help us predict which children are more likely to go into anaphylaxis.”
Dr Bhatia says food challenges are important in managing a peanut allergy, but they are not without risk due to the possibility of a severe reaction.
“Food challenges are very important and critical in determining a food allergy,” she said.
“Now when we do a challenge to peanuts we are sometimes unable to predict which children will have a severe allergic reaction, and that can be quite traumatic and stressful, not only for the child but for the family.
“If we are able to predict which children may have a severe allergic reaction, then we may not put them through that procedure.”