According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) food allergies are on the rise in the United States, having increased by approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. But there’s good news! There may be a cure for peanut allergies.
You may have seen the new peanut allergy study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that children under one who did not consume peanuts were 80% more likely to develop a peanut allergy than children who did not eat peanuts.
Is the cure for peanut allergies really as easy as giving peanuts to infants under the age of 1 to prevent a peanut allergy from beginning.
This is not the first study to report that peanut allergies can be cured, or at least reduced.
The most common fatal food allergy reactions is caused by peanuts. This affects one in fifty children. Exposure to peanuts (even trace amounts) can put a child into anaphylactic shock, or even cause death. Due to the severity of the allergy, parents of children with nut allergies have to take sometimes extreme measures to ensure that their children are not exposed at all to nuts or anything that has come in contact with them.
However, there may soon be some relief for families who suffer from peanut allergies.
The findings of a study conducted at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England, were released in The Lancet in late January, 2014. The study in “tolerance therapy” was conducted over a period of five years in response to the half a million people in the UK that suffer from this allergy. Ninety-nine children ages seven to 16 took part. The patients participated in a therapy to help them build up tolerance over a short time period. A very small amount of peanut protein was introduced daily, with the amount being slowly increased over time. The goal was to get the patients to be able to eat about five nuts with no allergic reaction.
The treatment succeeded in 84% of the children who participated in the study. The quality of life for these families has increased significantly. Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services at Allergy UK, said: “Peanut allergy is a particularly frightening food allergy, causing constant anxiety of a reaction from peanut traces. This is a major step forward in the global quest to manage it.”
This is not the first study in this line of research. In 2009, researchers at Duke University Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital concluded that small doses of peanut protein over time could result in tolerance among children with peanut allergies. This was followed in 2011 by a study from Duke University Medical Center which found that after one year of treatment, 11 children who had peanut allergy could tolerate up to six peanuts.
Still, Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, warns parents that this is not an end-all cure. In order to maintain tolerance, those who are treated in this manner must continue eating peanuts daily.
Immunotherapy is part of the planned treatments in a new peanut allergy clinic opening at the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.
More research is needed on the topic, but these studies provide encouraging outcomes for those who suffer from peanut allergies.
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