Peanut allergy is certainly nothing new. It is the most common food allergy for children, causing parents and children alike to live in fear of food. Due to a recent study in England, there may be hope on the horizon for allergy sufferers. This study involved giving very small amounts of peanut protein to select children over time as a way to slowly build up the children’s immune systems in the hopes of building tolerance to the dreaded nut. It appears to have helped many of the children.
After six months of treatment, 84 percent of children involved could eat up to five peanuts without any sign of an allergic reaction. While not a cure, it does provide hope that people living with peanut allergies have the possibility of being able to eat a wider variety of foods in the future. As anyone can attest, the sheer number of packages that provide warnings of possible traces of nuts is a grocery shopping nightmare and constant battle to those who suffer from this kind of problem.
Allergies to peanuts continue to grow around the world, affecting as many as one in fifty. This seems to be more prevalent in developed countries where there is a high abundance of processed and packaged food items readily available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the majority of all food allergies are from a small number of foods that include milk and eggs, fish and shellfish, wheat and soy, along with peanuts and tree nuts. Some have noted with alarm that over a ten year period there has been an increase in allergies to food of 18 percent in children and adolescents. These types of allergies are rising faster than ways of dealing with them effectively. The treatment solution that has been tried for peanuts offers hope to all food allergy sufferers out there who must face this issue every day.
Schools are struggling trying to meet the demands of students who continue to battle with trying to avoid cross-contaminated foods, as well as other stressors. The backlash from angry parents when bans have been placed at various schools has made this issue difficult to be effectively dealt with. Children have been separated from other students at lunch times, teased and isolated by their peers for having a food allergy. There is no known cure for a peanut allergy, however there is some hope in the future that the treatment of this problem will provide hope to so many that had no other alternative than to simply avoid all things peanut.
While this slow build up of tolerance to peanuts provides hope to peanut allergy patients, researchers have stated that there is no data at this time as to the long-term effects to this form of treatment, advising that allergy sufferers could be taking peanut protein for two years or longer.
It is important to note that the children involved in the study were supervised closely by medical personnel in a hospital setting, and the study author strongly advises people not to attempt this treatment at home. The study provides hope for possible relief for peanut allergy sufferers in the future, but is not yet ready for large-scale treatment.
By Dorothy McVay