Cure for peanut allergy could help children

A new discovery can help millions of children from peanut allergy. The reaction o peanuts can range from mild itching & rashes to potentially dangerous swelling of airways, breathing problems & severe asthma. It is the most common serious allergic reaction & appears to be on the rise. On average, seven children are thought to die from peanut allergies each year.

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The pioneering therapy uses carefully controlled doses of peanut flour to retrain a child's faulty immune system & bring it back to normal. In the initial trial doctors successfully treated twenty children suffering from severe peanut allergy. By the end of the six-month experiment, some of the youngsters could eat up to 12 nuts every day without suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Doctors initially gave the lower dose than the amount needed to trigger an allergic reaction & were increased every two weeks until the youngsters could eat the equivalent of six peanut a day. After 16 weeks, the children were eating peanuts every day to keep their immune system desensitized. According to the doctors, 20 patients aged between 5 & 17 years old can now eat up to 12 peanuts a day.

Dr Pamela Ewan, a consultant allergist said, “We are essentially retraining the immune system by presenting it with a very low dose to begin with & gradually increasing it. The patients have told us that it has been a massive, life-changing experience. 'The mothers & the children say it has taken away a huge fear that had been looming over them.”

She warned parents not to attempt the technique at home. Giving children with a nut allergy dose of peanut flour could be extremely dangerous. She also warned that they have to increase the dose in hospital in case allergy dose take an adverse reaction. The children will be followed for the next three or four years to monitor their tolerance levels. Other studies will see if the peanut flour can be given as a tablet.

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