Two Pieces of Good News re: Peanut Allergies
Peanut allergies are very common these days. In fact, an estimated 400,000 school-aged kids in the US suffer from this allergy. And it is very scary. Even contact with the tiniest amount of peanuts or peanut butter can be life-threatening in someone who is allergic. But this week there were two breakthroughs announced that might help those who are allergic, and those who want to prevent the allergy altogether.
When my kids were babies, we were told to avoid peanut consumption at all costs before the age of 2. The thinking was that exposure to peanuts at such a young and tender age might be the cause of the upswing in peanut allergies.
Last year, however, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that eating peanuts or peanut products as a baby can actually help kids to develop resistance to the allergy. In fact, their study showed that eating peanut products as a baby significantly reduced the risk of developing the allergy by 80% in high-risk infants!
Check with a doctor before you try this on your own, though. If your child is allergic to eggs or suffers from exczema, do not proceed with trying peanut products unless you have a doctor’s okay.
The Peanut Patch
The second piece of potential good news is for people who already suffer from peanut allergies. A new “Peanut Patch” has been developed that appears to increase peanut tolerance in patients 10-fold. It works like this: peanut allergy sufferers wear a skin patch that exposes the wearer to a small dose of peanut protein, ranging from 50-250mg. Half of those who used the largest patch saw their peanut tolerance increase 10-fold. In other words, 50% of the subjects could tolerate the equivalent of 4 whole peanuts without any reaction as a result of wearing the skin patch!
This is HUGE!
This is great news, because it could mean that patients treated with the patch will no longer find themselves in life-threatening situations when they are accidentally exposed to trace amounts of peanuts in school or in airplanes or restaurants!
Unfortunately, the patch needs to be approved by the FDA before it is available to the public, which may take another couple of years.