According to USA Today, only 20% of children with peanut allergies outgrow them. For all the rest, they stay somewhat a prisoner to food prepared at home--unable to safely indulge at parties or restaurants for fear of peanut contamination. An allergic response to peanuts can be deadly and usually strikes within minutes of exposure.
That's why news of successful peanut allergy research is exciting to many parents and their children.
From the article:
The new therapy works similarly to allergy shots, which haven't proved safe against food allergies. Exposure to increasing amounts of peanut flour gradually builds up tolerance. Blood tests show that the immune system begins to ignore the peanut flour instead of attacking it.
Children start with the lowest dose of peanut flour they can take without a reaction — just one one-thousandth of a peanut in some cases, says Wesley Burks, chief of pediatric allergy at Duke University. Duke is collaborating on the research with the Arkansas Children's Hospital.
The children go home with precisely measured daily doses for two weeks and then return for tests and two weeks of slightly larger doses to be mixed in food. In one study, subjects ate flour equal to 15 peanuts a day after eight to 10 months of this. Nine of 33 have or had been on that maintenance dose for 2½ years.
After "challenges" in which they were asked to eat peanuts, four of the nine were declared ready to stop treatment.
For now, at least, those four still must eat peanuts every day. Other studies have shown that "as long as you keep something in your diet, your tolerance stays," Burks says. He cautions that the treatment shouldn't be tried outside a research study in which subjects are closely monitored.
On a related note: Food allergies for children are up 20%. For more of the story check out this post on the Toddler Buzz.
Does you child have any food allergies? How do you cope?