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New treatment could reduce kids' peanut allergies

Peanut Allergy Treatment 'a Success'

LONDON (AP) - An experimental therapy that fed children with peanut allergies small amounts of peanut flour has helped more than 80 percent of them safely eat a handful of the previously worrisome nuts.

Although experts say the results of the carefully monitored study are encouraging, they warn it isn't something that parents should try at home.

Peanut allergies are on the rise globally and affect about 1 in 50 children, mostly in high-income countries. The consequences can be life-threatening - peanuts are the most common cause of fatal food allergy reactions. There is no way to avoid a reaction other than just avoiding peanuts. Allergy shots used for environmental triggers like pollen are too risky.

Doctors at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge started by giving 99 children aged seven to 16 with severe peanut allergies a tiny 2-milligram dose of a special peanut flour mixed into their food. Slowly they increased that amount to 800 milligrams. The dose increases were given at a research facility where the children were observed for any dangerous side effects - the most frequent were itchiness in the mouth, stomach pains or nausea.

After six months of treatment, more than 80 percent of the children can now safely eat five peanuts at a time.

"This made a dramatic difference to their lives," said Dr. Andrew Clark of the University of Cambridge in Britain, who led the research. "Before the study, they could not even tolerate tiny bits of peanuts and their parents had to read food labels continuously."

The intention of the treatment isn't to help kids eat large amounts of peanuts, but to prevent a life-threatening allergic reaction in case they accidentally eat trace amounts.

Clark said the treatment works by retraining the patients' immune systems so they can gradually build up a tolerance to peanuts, though he guessed they might need to keep taking it for several years. He and colleagues plan to offer the treatment soon in a special peanut allergy clinic as well as beginning larger studies.

The study was paid for by Britain's Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. It was published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet.

In an accompanying commentary, Matthew Greenhawt of the University of Michigan described the study's results as "exceptionally promising" but predicted the treatment was still "years away from routine clinical use." He noted that previous research which used a similar approach for milk allergies had failed and said it was unknown if the peanut therapy could produce "lasting tolerance."

Unlike other childhood food allergies, children rarely outgrow a nut allergy. Schools across Canada and the United States have taken a host of measures to combat the problem, some airlines have stopped serving packaged nuts and there's been a fierce debate over whether peanut butter should be banned from schools.

Lena Barden, 12, used to suffer serious swelling and breathing problems after eating just a trace amounts of nuts. But since she joined the study more than two years ago, Barden's tolerance has grown and she now eats five peanuts a day. While Barden says she still hates peanuts, the trial has allowed her to indulge in previously forbidden treats.

"I'd never tried a doughnut before I was 11 because they (could) contain traces of nuts," she said.

Then a friend bought a pack and offered her one.

"It was amazing," she said. "I ate the entire packet."

Join the discussion

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wittlief January 30 2014 at 9:04 AM

This has been known for years.
the question is, what are they waiting for?!
WHY isn't this a standard treatment for people with serious allergies?!

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dave1marine January 30 2014 at 9:10 AM

WHY are all these kids (and adults) allergic to nuts? It hasn't been all that long ago that peanuts were a staple item in ball parks, county fairs, the circus, you name it. NOW, they're killing people.

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2 replies
dgoffnspector dave1marine January 30 2014 at 9:36 AM

Immunologists believe that the most likely reason is that, as first world countries have become more "hygienic", the immune responses don't develop properly to the multiple environmental stimuli. This causes the immune system to kick into overdrive, in response to otherwise benign triggers.

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beadsme99 dave1marine January 30 2014 at 9:49 AM

They have genetically modified peanuts, soy and corn to the extent that the proteins are no longer recognized as a food but rather a poison by an increasing number of children AND adults.

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2 replies
bdgrizcp beadsme99 January 30 2014 at 10:20 AM

That's your answer for everything today, am I right? You forgot to call out the companies by name.

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Bill beadsme99 January 30 2014 at 10:40 AM

I have a question about your hat: is it Alcoa or Reynolds? (Also, you forgot to mention "chemtrails", the HAARP Project and Ancient Aliens.)

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dockong January 30 2014 at 9:13 AM

the medical prof are so smart they always know....

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bdgrizcp January 30 2014 at 10:19 AM

I guess kids are no longer cosuming that pound of dirt we used to hear about. Maybe that's a part of the problem.

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walkinbeautyeck January 30 2014 at 11:47 AM


Link above explains why people are allergic to peanuts. An Alfatoxin is present. Very dangerous...also the oil in all nuts is rancid.


The Problem with Rancid Nuts and Seeds
This information was taken from "Healing With Whole Foods", By Paul Pitchford

Nuts and seeds become rancid and lose their nutrients when they are hulled or shelled. Deterioration begins immediately and continues, somewhat, even when vacuum-packed without oxygen.
Rancidity causes irritation to the linings of the stomach and intestines.
The pancreatic enzymes that digest oils in these foods are retarded. Thus the oils cannot be digested or assimilated efficiently.
Can contribute to poor immunity, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Destroys vitamins A, E, and F in foods in general, in addition to those stored in the body.
It causes gall bladder and liver complaints. (Results in anger and indecision).
Peanut Butter and Almond Butter are both rancid. Peanuts have a toxin called Alfatoxin read this article http://www.wellvet.com/aflatoxins.html
It’s very dangerous when in corn and peanuts.

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sgard206 January 30 2014 at 11:45 AM

In an accompanying commentary, Matthew Greenhawt of the University of Michigan described the study's results as "exceptionally promising" but predicted the treatment was still "years away from routine clinical use." He noted that previous research which used a similar approach for milk allergies had failed and said it was unknown if the peanut therapy could produce "lasting tolerance."

The key difference is that humans NEVER were genetically built to drink cow's milk, especially pasteurized homogenized. There's a reason ancient peoples drank kefir and ate yoghurt--the naturally occurring bacteria make them more agreeable to our systems.

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walkinbeautyeck January 30 2014 at 11:43 AM

Please read this:

peanuts have a toxin...link above will explain!

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sgard206 January 30 2014 at 11:40 AM

Studies are showing much of a child's immune system develops in-vitro, so we literally are what our mother ate. Also, the immune system continues to develop in the first five years of a child's life. I find it interesting that so many doctors tell expectant mothers to refrain from so many things, and to introduce foods to their kids AFTER age five. Like the snake handlers I've met who periodically inject themselves with small amounts of venom to develop immunity, I think the British doctors are on the right track.

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Traci January 30 2014 at 10:55 AM

My 17 yo daughter would die if she ingested a peanut, I would love to know why, and have heard lots of theories. Our allergist has offered this type of exposure therapy, but with a $50 co-pay and seeing the allergist 3x's a week for possibly years...expensive and time consuming. Not a practical solution for older kids/ adults.

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agerber292 January 30 2014 at 10:49 AM

Peanut oils were introduced as vaccine excipients in the mid 1960s. Since then, peanut allergy rates have gone through the roof. Not only does the body's imune system develope antigens against chicken pox or measles, it also educates itself against the peanut. The results can be deadly..

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