Allergies affect between 30 and 40 percent of people in the United States, and those numbers appear to be on the rise. For most people who suffer allergies, the symptoms are mild to moderate and, for the most part, easily controlled or even prevented. From medications to lifestyle modification, allergies can be nothing more than a slight discomfort for many.
For those with peanut allergies, unfortunately, an allergic reaction can be extremely uncomfortable, even life-threatening. For small children with peanut allergies, this can be even more true.
What is, perhaps, even more unfortunate is that there is no “cure” for allergies and, in terms of the most severe allergies, no real “treatment” for lessening their symptoms.
At least, until now. A new study shows that a combination of probiotics (healthy/beneficial bacteria) and peanuts, taken in regulated, measured amounts, over a period of time, could help children with peanut allergies to actually overcome them. The study, published in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal provided results showing that more than 80 percent of children given this treatment had an immediate reduction in their allergic reactions. More importantly, though, at the four-year follow up, nearly 70 percent of the children said they were able to eat peanuts without any worry of an allergic reaction.
Lead study author Mimi Tang, of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (Melbourne), comments, “The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don’t have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanuts.”
More than 15 million people in the United States alone suffer a food allergy of some kind (shellfish is another big one). Of this population, nearly six million are children; so this could be the groundbreaking development we have been waiting for.
Indeed, this could be just the beginning. The CEO of a biotech firm that is presently using these results to develop a treatment that doctors will be able to prescribe, comments, “For the first time, we could have products on the market that provide meaningful and long-lasting treatment benefits, which allow sufferers to eat peanut products without thinking about it, as part of a regular diet.”