A growing number of individuals across the world suffer from peanut allergies. While some food allergies merely cause a benign rash or runny nose, peanut allergies are much more serious. Indeed, in Western cultures, peanut allergies are the most common causes of food related anaphylaxis deaths.
Signs and Symptoms
On consuming peanuts, an individual allergic to them may suffer from a variety of symptoms such as itchiness, swelling, sneezing, asthma, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and eczema.
Even more seriously, consuming peanuts can cause a cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis, which is an allergic reaction that includes throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, light-headedness and low blood pressure. These reactions may sometimes lead to death, especially if they take place rapidly.
Peanut Allergies Amongst Children
In recent years, more and more children have been found to suffer from peanut allergies; a study in the US in 2010 found that peanut allergy cases between 1997 and 2008 had more than tripled. While many children suffer from a variety of food allergies, they outgrow most as they become adults. However, peanut allergies typically remain will individuals through their lives.
Recently, many schools have stopped using peanuts in school lunches (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut desserts) as a response to the awareness of the dangers of a peanut allergy.
Recent research has found that peanut allergies can be suppressed to some extend by exposing children to minuscule amounts of peanut protein per day.
The research was conducted by Wesley Burks of the University of North Caroline in the US and was aimed at deducing whether low and high dose of oral immunotherapy can help children overcome peanut allergies.
Forty peanut allergic children between nine to 36 months took place in the study and were either a part of a high dose group, which received 3000 milligrams of peanut protein or a low dose group which received 300 milligrams of peanut protein.
After 29 months, it was found that 80% of the participants were able to eat peanut containing foods without any allergy related symptoms.
However, it will take some time before the research gets replicated or further tested due to the study’s controversial nature; oral immunotherapy can potentially cause severely harmful reactions and some judge it extremely unethical to test it on humans and especially children.