Tampa, Fla. - "Peanut allergy now affects one percent of children and half a percent of adults and it's a problem that's a growing problem and were not quite sure why." Dr Richard Lockey is an expert in allergies. He sees patients at his office near University of South Florida. He has been following the study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, where 40 adolescents and adults with peanut allergies were tested to see if a little peanut daily would build their tolerance and lessen their risk of dangerous reactions. He says, "There's a study now that shows if you give small amounts to begin with and incremental amounts of peanut extract in the mouth over a period of time you can partial desensitize the person."
After 44 weeks, 14 of the 20 study participants who got daily peanut powder were able to tolerate more than 10 times the peanut they could at the beginning of the study. While only 3 of 20 who had placebo could do the same.
But Dr. Lockey warns: Don't try this at home. "There can be very serious consequences to it because you're eating something and in the process of desensitizing or making yourself less sensitive to it, it can cause severe reactions."
Severe reactions that could occur includes anaphylactic shock and death. A study before tried the same thing with injections. Doctor Lockey says, "Allergy shots showed the same thing. The problem is in their experiments it resulted in more serious reactions and even a fatality in that study. So this may be, may be a safer way because you're giving it orally rather than by injection."
That said he's not trying this in his own practice yet. "We could do it today it's just not something the general community of allergists will push at the point but there are some people already doing it in clinical practice."
How do you know if you're allergic to peanuts? Doctor Lockey says if you eat a peanut or peanuts you'll likely get hives all over your body, redness of your skin, your skin may itch, you could get nauseous and vomit and you could go into respiratory distress.