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No more peanut allergies in 5 years?

Peanut allergy is a real pain, as many parents, kindergarten and school staff, and food manufacturers can attest. It is very common among kids younger than 5 years old and small traces of peanuts in food can create havoc.

It seems that peanut allergy starts in the first three years of our life and different people may have different allergic reactions. It may be a minor irritation like itchiness or whole-body allergic response called anaphylaxis which can lead to death in a matter of minutes if untreated. Normally, kids can outgrow their allergies to milk or eggs, but surprisingly only about 20 % lose their peanut allergy as they grow older.

But the good news is that science experts are now developing immunotherapies that can help overcome allergy to peanuts. These may include genetically-modified allergen-free peanuts or even Chinese herbal medicine. Peanut allergy among children is becoming common and the number of children with allergies has doubled from 0.4 % in 1997 to 0.8 % in 2002. The development of immunotherapy to overcome peanut allergy, therefore, would be a great help especially for those kids with life-threatening reactions to peanuts. It is foreseen that such a therapy will be available in 5 years.

Dare we hope?


Reuters 2 May 2008

Burks, Peanut Allergy. The Lancet 2008; 371:1538-1546

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