Approximately 3 million people in the US live with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts—a number that tripled between 1997 and 2008, according to statistics published by the organization Food Allergy Research & Education. And it can be so intense that if an allergic person is even in the same room as a peanut, they can have a violent reaction. But the peanut-allergic may have something to look forward to, because in Australia, they have successfully trialed a treatment for it.
The small study gave a probiotic along with a peanut protein to kids who are allergic to peanuts for 18 months. The results? Eighty percent of the treated children could tolerate peanuts at the end of the trial.
Though the results are exciting, it’s a little early to call it a cure. Researchers admit that further follow-up research will be required to see if this treatment is still effective years later. In the trial, “peanut challenges” were only attempted during a two- to five-week period after the therapy had ended.
As with most experimental methods, this one has some potential dangers. Professor Mimi Tang, the lead researcher, said, “It is important to point out that this treatment must only be given under close medical supervision, as we are giving peanuts to children who are allergic to peanuts, and children did have allergic reactions.”
Still, these finding are a potential breakthrough in one of the world’s most prevalent and deadly food allergies. Hopefully, a day will come soon when we can all eat peanut butter cups together.