You won't likely allow your child to eat anything with nuts if he has peanut allergy but doctors dared to do this very thing to find a cure for the condition.
It appears that feeding peanuts to children whose bodies reject them is a potential solution to their allergy problem. The doctors who conducted the new study, which was published in The Lancet medical journal Jan. 30, said that giving children with peanut allergy a daily dose of peanut protein can build their tolerance and lessen the chances of dangerous reactions in case of accidental ingestion.
To assess whether or not peanut oral immunotherapy can reduce the sensitivity of children with peanut allergy, researchers conducted a study on children with peanut allergy who were between 7 and 16 years old. The researchers gave the subjects small amounts of peanut flour mixed with their food daily and gradually increased the dosage.
By the sixth month, 84 percent of the children could tolerate 800 mg a day without significant reaction. A peanut allergy test also showed that more than half of the children (62 percent) could already tolerate the equivalent of five peanuts, which was 25 times the amount they could tolerate before the therapy.
"The treatment allowed children with all severities of peanut allergy to eat large quantities of peanuts, well above the levels found in contaminated snacks and meals, freeing them and their parents from the fear of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction," said lead study researcher Andrew Clark from Cambridge University Hospitals. "The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically."
While the result of the study is promising, experts warn parents to not try it at home. "The real issues that still remain include how long the results will last, and whether the positive effects might lead affected individuals to have a false sense of security," said Barry Kay, from the department of allergy and clinical immunology at Imperial College London. "So, this study shows encouraging results that add to the current literature, but more studies are needed to pin down these issues before the current advice to peanut allergy sufferers, which is to avoid eating peanuts, is changed."