Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
Some hopeful news for parents of kids with peanut allergies: A new Australian study found that a daily dose of peanut protein taken with a probiotic was successful in treating nut allergies in children.
Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital Institute in Melbourne, Australia gave 60 kids with peanut allergies a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein, or a placebo. Researchers reported that over 80 percent of the children who received the probiotic with gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein—a technique known as oral immunotherapy—were able to tolerate nuts at the end of the study. And even more surprising: the kids were able to include them in their diet without adverse reactions two to five weeks after the treatment ended.
So what does this mean for children suffering from mild to life-threatening peanut allergies right now? “This is a wonderful, small study that holds a lot of exciting avenues for future research and applications, but we can’t necessary take these results and run with them just yet,” says David Stukus, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “The biggest drawbacks are that it’s a small study and only tests kids’ reactions to peanuts a few weeks after the conclusion of the study, so we don’t know what would happen if they ate nuts a few months or years down the road.”
Dr. Stukus also cautions that, as in all other studies with oral immunotherapy for food allergies, there was a very high rate of allergic reactions in patients who underwent the therapy. “Almost 50 percent of these kids had some sort of reaction, including anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening—this is not a safe procedure to do on your own. It requires supervision from a physician or a team of medical professions, and can only be done under the right circumstances.” So if your child has a peanut allergy, speak to your allergist about how this development might help your family down the road.
Maria-Nicole Marino is an Assistant Editor at Parents who covers kids’ health. She’s a proud Syracuse University alum with a not-so-secret love of kickboxing. Her cubicle currently houses two yoga balls and a bike. #healtheditorproblems
Image: Peanuts via Shutterstock
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Friday, June 20th, 2014
Kids (and adults) with severe allergies to peanuts could someday be able to enjoy the nuts, hope North Carolina-based researchers who are developing a process of treating peanuts to render them hypoallergenic. Reuters has more:
Researchers from North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical State University have developed a patented process that reduces peanut allergens by up to 98 percent. Allergens are the substances that trigger allergic reactions. The new process reduces them by soaking de-shelled and roasted peanuts in a solution of food-grade enzymes.
The treated peanuts are made to look and taste like regular roasted peanuts, and they are not genetically modified.
“Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic,” said lead researcher Jianmei Yu in a statement.
The treated peanuts could even be used in immunotherapy, under a doctor’s supervision, she added.
The process reduces two key peanut allergy triggers called Ara h 1 and Ara h 2. It reduces Ara h 1 to undetectable levels, and Ara h 2 by up to 98 percent. Human skin-prick trials were conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to measure the effectiveness of the process.
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 30th, 2013
Women who regularly eat tree nuts or peanuts during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth to babies who later develop nut allergies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found. More from CNN.com:
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to demonstrate that a mother who eats nuts during pregnancy may help build up a baby’s tolerance to them after birth, its lead author, Dr. Michael Young, told CNN.
The effect seemed to be strongest in women who ate the most peanuts or tree nuts — five or more servings per week, according to the study, which controlled for factors such as family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices.
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to overlap, according to the researchers.
Earlier studies indicated that nut consumption during pregnancy either didn’t have any effect or actually raised the risk of allergies in children.
However, the authors of the latest study say those studies were based on less reliable data and conflict with more recent research suggesting that early exposure to nuts can reduce the risk of developing allergies to them.
There is currently no formally recognized medical guidance for nut consumption during pregnancy or infancy.
Download our Food Allergy Action Plan.
Image: Pregnant woman eating nuts, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 9th, 2013
A new method of treating–and possibly even curing–severe peanut allergies is being developed and tested by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital. More from Boston.com:
In a small study involving 13 children at high risk for having severe allergic reactions to peanuts, Boston Children’s Hospital researchers first administered an injectable asthma drug every few weeks for 12 weeks, before having the children eat peanuts, in order to dampen their immune system’s response to peanut protein. The children continued to receive the drug—called omalizumab—for another 8 weeks as they gradually ate an increasing number of peanuts.
Twelve of the children were eventually able to eat the equivalent of 10 peanuts a day even after they went off the drug, according to the findings published in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Most did, however, experience allergic reactions during the first few weeks before their immune systems became desensitized to the peanut protein. Five children had moderate allergic reactions such as wheezing, nausea, and shortness of breath, and two children had more severe reactions like a full-blown asthma attack. One child dropped out of the study after experiencing nausea and vomiting from eating peanuts, which didn’t abate for several weeks.
(None of the children had side effects from omalizumab, which in rare cases can cause life-threatening allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.)
“An important goal is to prevent life-threatening allergic reactions in those who eat peanuts accidentally,” said study leader Dr. Lynda Schneider, director of the allergy program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We’re cautiously hopeful that some will be able to include peanuts in their diet every day, but we’re not ready to call this a cure.”
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Friday, August 30th, 2013
Several companies now offer temporary tattoos that children can wear on their arms to alert teachers, cafeteria staff, and other adults that the kids suffer from severe allergies. Parents report that these tattoos give them a little peace of mind, but critics worry that they set kids up to be bullied. More from Yahoo! Shine:
“Right now there’s a huge awareness, whether because of going back to school or because of the recent incident in California,” SafetyTat founder and mother of three Michele Welsh told Yahoo! Shine. Welsh was referring to the recent tragic death of a 13-year-old girl with a peanut allergy at a Sacramento summer camp. “Unfortunately it sometimes takes something like that for people to say, ‘Wow, it really can happen.’”
Welsh created her 5-year-old company—offering products that include temporary tattoos and long-lasting, write-on skin stickers—after using a ballpoint pen to nervously scrawl her cell phone number on her kids’ arms at a crowded amusement park, in case they got separated, and realizing it was maybe not the best way to go about it.
The moment made her think of other dangers lurking for kids, and how having an actual warning label on the body could be useful to other parents, too—like her sister-in-law, who is mom to a boy with a fatal peanut allergy. “He had spent so much time in the hospital as a toddler, that his mom had begun limiting his time outside the home because she was so fearful,” Welsh said. When she created the tattoos and he wore one to a school trip, the response was immediate, alerting a food server who double checked the ingredient of his salad dressing only to discover it contained peanut oil. “His mom told me, ‘It’s almost like I’m there with him, reminding people,’” she added.
But Yahoo! Shine reports that the tattoos do have critics:
A recent Slate article on the phenomenon of children wearing warning labels raised the issue of bullying, questioning whether the added attention would make them targets of childhood cruelty. It was a concern echoed by American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology spokesperson, allergist Kevin McGrath. “A lot of kids do get bullied at school about their food allergies, so there is some concern about whether this might give more ammunition to kids,” McGrath told Yahoo! Shine.
Image: SafetyTat tattoo, via Yahoo! Shine
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