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How feeding kids boiled peanuts may prevent fatal allergies

By the end of the study, 56 of the 70 participants (80%) were able to tolerate them.

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healthy eating, dieting, vegetarian food and people concept - close up of woman hands holding peeled peanuts at home
Parents should not attempt the therapy themselves. (Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Feeding children boiled peanuts may cure them of the potentially fatal allergy, according to new research.

A trial involving dozens of six to 18-year-olds found most became immune within a few months.

The condition blights the lives of up to one in twenty-five youngsters. Any contact with the snack food could trigger a reaction or even an anaphylactic shock.

The groundbreaking findings could transform the lives of thousands of young people, offering hope of a cheap alternative treatment.

Corresponding author Dr. Luke Grzeskowiak, of Flinders University, Adelaide, said: "Oral immunotherapy using boiled followed by roasted peanuts represents a pragmatic approach.

"It appears effective in inducing desensitization and is associated with a favorable safety profile."

Heat affects their structure and potency. The 70 previously diagnosed patients received peanuts that had been boiled for 12 hours for 12 weeks.

They were then given similar increasing amounts of roasted peanuts for 20 weeks - until reaching a target dose of 12 a day.

By the end of the study, 56 of the 70 participants (80%) were able to tolerate them - without developing any symptoms. Three dropped out due to adverse side effects.

Food allergies are widespread and rising fast in the western world with peanuts the most common, said Dr. Grzeskowiak.

Sweet little girl outdoors with curly hair in the wind
(ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

Each year in the UK, the number of allergy sufferers increases by five percent and half of all people affected are children.

There has been a 500 percent increase in hospital admissions for food allergies since 1990.

Dr. Grzeskowiak said: "Only one in five children grow out of their peanut allergy, with avoidance and medications the recognized mainstay of treatment for many years.

"However, avoidance of peanuts provides many challenges for children and their parents, given peanuts are widely present in many foods and there remains a risk of contamination of many products during manufacturing processes.

"This requires children and parents to be hypervigilant regarding peanut ingestion and creates a significant burden on children and their families."

Most current therapies involve using tiny amounts of carefully prepared peanut flour. It can be expensive.

The technique described in Clinical & Experimental Allergy generated "promising results" - and is affordable, said Dr. Grzeskowiak.

Boiling peanuts destroys proteins that trigger the immune system's allergic reaction.

The idea is to give patients small doses of boiled peanuts over an extended period of time.

But parents should not attempt to self-medicate their children or attempt the therapy themselves.

Dr. Grzeskowiak said longer-term follow-up showed almost all (96%) volunteers were continuing to eat peanuts.

He added: "This approach of oral immunotherapy was well tolerated and had a very low frequency of medication use."

Dr. Grzeskowiak and colleagues said further trials tracking larger numbers are required to confirm the findings.

Whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn’t be given to children under five, as they can choke on them.

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