Peanut Allergy

Two new studies are offering hope for children diagnosed with peanut allergies. One is testing a possible treatment, while another indicates that some children may have been misdiagnosed.

In the first study, a team of doctors in Cambridge, England, will try to “de-sensitize” children with the allergy by giving them small doses of peanut flour daily until they build up a tolerance. The new study will follow 100 children between the ages of 7 and 17 for three years. Previous trials have been successful, but have involved much smaller numbers.

The study is being led by Andrew Clark, who presented his research at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego. Clark said parents should not attempt this on their own without medical supervision.

And in a 10-year study involving 4,000 children born between 1994 and 1996 in Stockholm, Sweden, researchers found that nearly two-thirds of the children who had been diagnosed as allergic to peanuts were not allergic to them at all.

The leader of the study, Magnus Wickman of the Sachska Children’s Hospital, said that tests that were administered to the children did not differentiate between two very similar allergens, one found in peanuts and one found in birch pollen.

“Many people who have been told that they are allergic to peanuts and forced to adapt their lives around it are in fact able to cope with eating peanuts and products that contain peanuts,” he said.

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