Peanut allergy can be reduced for some children if they take very small quantities of peanut each day in their food for a period of years. Under medical supervision, the peanut dosage is increased every two to three weeks to help your child’s digestive system become accustomed to peanut protein. This is called peanut desensitisation.
The daily treatment takes place at home, but for the first dose and each time the dose is increased, this will done at the hospital so that your child can be monitored for any reaction for a couple of hours.
What is Nutlife? Who is it for?
Nutlife is a form of immunotherapy, or desensitisation, for treating peanut allergy. Nutlife is an oral allergy vaccine that contains peanut protein. The aim of desensitisation is to reduce allergic reactions. Desensitisation is commonly used for other allergies, such as hay fever.
Oral immunotherapy involves taking small amounts of peanut protein by mouth every day and gradually increasing the amount over time. Most of these doses are taken at home, but the first dose and each subsequent dose increase are taken in the Cambridge Peanut Allergy Clinic, under medical supervision.
Nutlife is a special medicinal product that does not have a licence. Special medicinal products are supplied on a named patient basis to individual patients who have clinical needs that cannot be met by licensed medicinal products.
Nutlife treatment programme
The Nutlife treatment programme takes several years and requires a number of hospital appointments. The first hospital appointment involves an allergy assessment, which takes two to three hours to complete. An allergy specialist takes a full description of the child’s allergies and performs some tests (skin prick tests, a blood test and a breathing test). This assessment enables the allergy specialist to decide whether your child is suitable to undergo the treatment programme.
Hospital appointments and treatments
Your child then attends a series of seven hospital appointments, each lasting about two and a half to three hours, to take your child through a total of seven Nutlife treatment stages. With each treatment stage your child is given an increasing dose of Nutlife peanut protein, starting with a very tiny amount. After showing you and your child how to take the Nutlife dose, your child will remain in the peanut allergy clinic for an observation period of two hours. Your child will then continue to take the same Nutlife dose every day at home until their next hospital appointment, two to three weeks later. You will be asked to complete a record chart and record any side effects. A small proportion of children require a dose adjustment, and thus an additional appointment may occasionally be needed.
When your child reaches stage seven of the Nutlife treatment programme, they will continue to take the same dose every day at home until the end of the two year treatment programme. Follow up consultations are made at 9-12 months then annually.
How to take Nutlife
One dose of Nutlife is mixed with food and eaten daily.
- Prepare a small amount of a suitable food, preferably yoghurt, but this can be a milk or a soya drink. Do not mix with food above room temperature.
- Hold the capsule over the food and using your fingers, break it open by pulling the ends apart.
- Sprinkle the contents of the Nutlife capsule onto the food. Ensure all the contents of the capsule is completely emptied.
- Mix the contents of the capsule into the food and feed it to your child.
When to take Nutlife
Plan when you give your child Nutlife each day
- Do not give your child Nutlife late at night or if they are tired,unwell or had a temperature in previous 24 hours.
- Avoid giving your child a Nutlife dose just before any energetic exercise – make sure they will be relatively relaxed for two hours after eating the food containing their daily dose of Nutlife.
If your child takes more Nutlife than they should
After an overdose, your child may experience the side effects, which are described in the package insert that comes with your child’s medication, with increased intensity. For a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), use your child’s adrenaline auto-injector, call ‘999’,ask for an ambulance immediately and state “anaphylaxis”. You should treat any symptoms of a milder allergic reaction with your child’s usual emergency medication.
If you think you have taken an overdose of Nutlife, please inform your allergy specialist before taking any further doses of Nutlife. Your allergy specialist will then decide what measures, if any, you should take.
If your child forgets to take Nutlife
If your child forgets to take a capsule, take it as soon as you remember. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose. Contact your child’s allergy specialist at the Cambridge peanut allergy clinic if your child has missed two consecutive doses of Nutlife.
If your child stops taking Nutlife
If your child stops taking Nutlife, ask your allergy specialist at the Cambridge peanut allergy clinic for advice.
Possible side effects
Side effects can occur after taking Nutlife, including itchiness, reddening, a nettle-type rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, swelling, generalised itchy rash or asthma. All these are readily treatable.
In the clinic, the specialist team will treat reactions straight away. Your allergy specialist will explain what to do if side effects occur at home.
We are smoke-free
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.
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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151