Daily dose of
peanuts may ward off allergy in kids
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Some children may be freed of their peanut allergies if they eat a tiny
crumb of peanut every day for weeks, U.S. doctors reported on Sunday.
Although the treatment
was too dangerous to try on children with the most severe and
life-threatening peanut allergies, the findings offer a ray to hope to some
people with the allergy, which is at best inconvenient and at worst deadly.
The teams at Duke
University Medical Center in North Carolina and Arkansas Children's
Hospital gave a group of children almost microscopic doses of peanut daily
and watched not only their symptoms but their blood for signs of allergic
Nine of the 33 children
in the study have been able to tolerate the treatment for more than two
years and four appear to be allergy-free, the researchers told reporters.
"At the start of the
study, these participants couldn't tolerate one-sixth of a peanut,"
said Dr. Wesley Burks of Duke, who helped lead the study. "Six months
into it, they were ingesting 13 to 15 peanuts before they had a
Reporting at a meeting in
Washington of the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology, the
researchers said it was the first time the method had been shown to help
someone with a food allergy become tolerant to the food.
"This gives other
parents and children hope that we'll soon have a safe, effective treatment
that will halt allergies to certain foods," Burks said.
The AAAI estimates that 4
million Americans have food allergies, with tree nuts and peanuts, which
are legumes, the most common. About 150 people die in the United States
each year from food allergies, half from peanuts.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox;
Editing by Paul Simao)