Six month treatment limits problems with peanut allergies

Food allergies present a significant challenge for many people since items that trigger severe reactions may show up in processed foods without anyone’s knowledge. Ingesting too much of an allergen can set of anaphylactic shock or cause a swelling of the throat that makes breathing difficult.

Peanut allergies are among the more prevalent food allergies and may affect over one percent of the children in developed countries; exposure to peanuts has been fatal for some of these individuals. So finding a way to build up a tolerance to peanuts can significantly improve a child’s quality of life—as well as that of his or her parents. But there may be some hope on the horizon. A pilot study suggests that a very carefully controlled exposure to peanut-containing food can help build tolerance in those with allergies.

It’s important to note that this is a very preliminary study involving less than 100 children. The process of exposing allergic individuals to peanuts was carefully controlled and, even then, a number of the participants had severe reactions. These including wheezing and, in one case, a participant gave himself an adrenaline injection. Perhaps most significantly, it didn’t work for everyone. So if it wasn’t already obvious: don’t try this at home.

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