Scientists Fighting Peanut Allergies With Peanuts

Consuming increasing doses of peanut flour can help children build up a tolerance, study claims

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A new experimental therapy to help ease peanut allergies in kids requires participants to consume peanut flour, and so far, it’s working.

Eighty percent of children who participated in an experimental treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the U.K. for six months were afterwards able to safely eat peanuts without a experiencing a reaction. The researchers at the hospital gave 99 kids between the ages 7 and 16 increasing doses of peanut flour mixed in with their food. Researchers slowly upped the amount of flour from 2 milligrams to 800 milligrams. At the end of the trial, the scientists reported that well over half of the children could eat five peanuts at a time without experiencing dangerous side effects.

The idea behind the therapy is that the children’s immune systems slowly build a tolerance to peanuts through consuming small amounts. The goal of the treatment is not to completely cure the children of their allergies, but to help them build a tolerance that will prevent them from having severe and life-threatening reactions if they come into contact with them. The researchers plan to test the same treatment in larger populations.

Health experts are not sure why, but food allergies are on a rise in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4-6% of U.S. children have a food allergy. How food allergies develop is still being studied, but some guesses are that America’s high standard of sanitation is making us “too clean” and unable to build up immune systems that can fight common allergens from foods and the environment. It’s also possible that kids who don’t eat foods like peanuts and shellfish when they are younger may develop allergies to them.

Finding a treatment or cure for severe allergies will not only help families who are currently forced to read food labels and carry emergency treatments, but would also bring down treatment costs. Food allergies are costing U.S. families about $25 billion a year, according to research from September, which boils down to $4,184 per child. Not to mention, about $4.3 billion of these costs are for medical fees like emergency treatments for reactions.

17 comments
ElanaCarleton
ElanaCarleton

This food allergy "desensitizing" is NOT something people can do safely in their homes.  It's not only highly controversial, it's also dangerous and life threatening.  Either re-write this article, or take it down. 


This is incredibly irresponsible and reveals a dangerous ignorance that exists in our society.  A serious food allergy can kill you.  And when it kills, it kills very quickly.  if you're talking about food allergies you have to talk about the very real dangers that are faced.  


Further, you must include that this "desensitizing" is controversial.  And, most importantly, you must state that this is not something people can safely take upon themselves to do at home.  These tests must be conducted under highly specialized conditions with a full medical staff (and even in these conditions, lives are put at risk).  


Unless you understand and represent the dangers for loss of life you put more kids and families at risk. 


I say again, this article is dangerous... take it down.

debrajeangretchen
debrajeangretchen

Please re-write this article.  This is irresponsible and misleading.  Some people may take it upon themselves to experiment with their kids or other people's kids, or pressure others to do so without medical supervision. This is a serious situation.  Thank you!

LeeVibber
LeeVibber

This is an extremely dangerous and misleading title!  This was a controlled trial with medical supervision -- feeding an allergic child peanuts on your own could result in a hospital visit or death!  Change the title!

PriscillaCavalca
PriscillaCavalca

The title of this article is misleading and dangerous. You are being extremely irresponsible in keeping it out there. This is an EXPERIMENTAL treatment, and only HALF of the children could eat peanuts safely by the end of the study. You need to change this title IMMEDIATELY!

jsmarkley
jsmarkley

Yeah, it couldn't possibly be the genetically altering of food by companies like Monsanto. Couldn't even offer that up as an option?

"some guesses are that America’s high standard of sanitation is making us “too clean” and unable to build up immune systems that can fight common allergens from foods and the environment."


njoe8175
njoe8175

All I know is that kids with allergies tend to live in home with hovering, over-protective parents.  

Scottfleet
Scottfleet

"It’s also possible that kids who don’t eat foods like peanuts and shellfish when they are younger may develop allergies to them."


Reading this is like sitting at my daughter's gymnastics class listening to the youngest, most ignorant mom in the room talk about allergies.  I gave my child a teeny bite of peanut butter when he was one and a half, against what I already knew what common sense and current suggestions from doctors--doctors, you have heard of them yes?  They make great background for magazine articles--and he immediately had a reaction.  Small, thank goodness, but clear.  Two years later a mom just handed him a peanut butter cracker without thinking (much like the author of this piece) and it was off to the emergency room.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

Exposure is a good thing. This is no more than common sense, exposure to things you are allergic to in small amounts allows some peoples immune systems to stop over reacting to the exposure.

MarkoJOBomyer
MarkoJOBomyer

This is a foolish and dangerous title. You are potentially inviting parents to kill their children. Please change it to something more sensible.

Ori
Ori

As already mentioned, the title is very misleading. Food allergies have no "cure" - in the same way genetic diseases have no true "cure" - only treatments.


You completely misunderstood the current research on the topic. 


1. It has nothing to do with "build[ing] up immune systems to fight common allergens" - being exposed to these "allergens" can help desensitize the immune system to those food proteins, not the reverse as you suggest.


2. Peanut and Shellfish allergies are typically identified before the age of 3 - Current guidelines from the AAAAI recommend exposing babies to highly allergenic foods as early as the age of 4-6 months old, and also discourage mothers from avoiding allergenic foods while breastfeeding. So this whole argument contradicts your statement above (1).

millennial
millennial

$5 says someone is going to read this article, do what you explicitly tell them to do in the title, and kill their child. Congratulations.


And not only is the title dangerous, it's a lie. You say it's not going to cure them in the article.

millennial
millennial

@jsmarkley  No, because there are practically no GMO foods on the market today. Seriously, not everything is the result of your pet fear.

chaching
chaching

@njoe8175 I think you are putting the cart before the horse on this one.  Parents of kids with life threatening allergies have to be extremely cautious about what foods are consumed by their kids.  After one or two trips to the emergency room when a parent's guard is down, they quickly learn they need to be protective.  The allergy causes the hovering, not the reverse.

ShawnLa
ShawnLa

@Ori Actually its the opposite of building up your immune system. It's making your immune system not react to the substance.