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Girl conquers allergy one peanut at a time

Peas
of mind:
Emily can
now tuck
into ice
cream that
may contain
traces of
peanuts PICTURE: PA

A GIRL of six with a severe nut allergy can now eat up to seven peanuts at a sitting after taking part in a breakthrough study that offers new hope to sufferers.

Little Emily Pratt was given increasing amounts of peanut protein over a year, starting with just one capsule, to slowly build up her tolerance.

She is now able to eat ice cream — having previously had to avoid it because many flavours can contain nuts.

Her mum Sophie, 44, from Kentish Town in north London, said: ‘The study has completely changed our lives. Before Emily took part, we were uncomfortable being more than 20 minutes away from a hospital and she wasn’t able to attend play dates or parties without me or my husband being there.

‘We had to constantly study food labels to ensure peanuts were completely eliminated from Emily’s diet. Her allergy was very severe, so even a small amount of peanut could lead to a very serious reaction. The impact on our family life was huge.’

Nearly 500 children from Europe and the US took part in the trial of immunotherapy treatment, already used to treat allergies to pollen and bee stings.

About two-thirds of the children given the peanut protein could cope with 600mg by the end of the study. This compared with only about four per cent of youngsters from a control group given a dummy powder as a placebo.

The researchers from Evelina London Children’s Hospital and King’s College London hope it will help families who ‘live in fear of accidental exposure’. In the past, doctors could do little except advise on how to avoid nuts and treat reactions.