Children with peanut allergies may soon be able to eat the legumes in small doses thanks to new therapy research at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England. While allergy shots used for environmental triggers (such as pollen) have been deemed too risky, doctors at Addenbrooke’s began treating 99 children ages 7-12 by feeding them 2 mg of a special peanut flour mixed in their food, then slowly increasing the amount until they reached 800mg.
While the most common side effects were listed as “frequent itching in the mouth as well as nausea and stomach pains,” the children were finally able to eat 5 peanuts at a time within 6 months of the experiment.
The method worked by “retraining their immune systems so they could gradually build up a tolerance of peanuts,” explained lead researcher Dr. Andrew Clark of the University of Cambridge. “This made a dramatic difference to their lives. Before the study, they could not even tolerate tiny bits o peanuts and their parents had to continually monitor food labels.”
He also noted that most of the kids would probably have to keep taking the special dosages for several years to make sure that the affects last.
World health officials have noted that peanut allergies have been rising globally in recent years, particularly in countries with higher economies, where 1 out of 5 children are reported to suffer from them. In turn, peanut allergies have been deemed as the most common cause of fatal food reactions.
Note: Doctors warn that parents or guardians, as well as kids, themselves, should not attempt this kind of treatment unless highly supervised by medical personnel due to the risk of severe side effects that could prove fatal.