Got a child with a peanut allergy? If so, you know all too well the serious risks that go along with it. While this condition can be life threatening, researchers have recently discovered that it might be successfully treated in some cases. Find out how.

Could a Peanut Allergy Treatment Exist?

In the spring of 2009, scientists from Duke University in North Carolina and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences released their research on 33 children with peanut allergies that they were treating to help them build up a tolerance to peanuts.

The technique they used was to administer peanut powder on a daily basis to the young patients, starting with very tiny doses and working their way up to larger amounts. Over the course of the study period, many of the children were increasingly able to change their immune system in order to tolerate this trigger, with some of them working their way up to eating as many as 15 peanuts a day without ill effects.

Desensitizing Kids

The researchers also wanted to see if the positive effects were lasting. Nine of the young participants have successfully continued consuming peanuts as part of their maintenance therapy for several years, while four children have even been able to stop the treatment and maintain the results.

What this Means for the Future of Peanut Allergy Treatment

Now, the scientists need to conduct further research to see what happens over an extended period. They also want to better understand why some children have more success with the treatment than others. This information may help guide future efforts to prevent and treat peanut allergies.

Several other research studies are also looking at the importance of exposing children to peanuts at a younger age in order to build up a tolerance to this allergen right from the start. Some researchers believe that this step will go a long way in helping to reduce the risks of children experiencing a serious peanut reaction.

A Word of Warning

Wonder what this all means for your child? If he's highly allergic to peanuts, these findings offer hope that new treatment methods will help overcome the problem in the not-too-distant future. However, the researchers strongly caution the medical community and parents not to use these results as encouragement to try their own similar tolerance-building efforts just yet. Since some children are highly sensitive to peanuts and may not tolerate them as well as the study participants, it could put them at real and unnecessary risk.

Further, until more research is conducted on how to overcome peanut allergies fully, it's extremely important to stay vigilant about helping your child avoid all exposure to peanut products in order to keep him safe and avoid any negative effects.


Duke University Medical Center