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23 Kids’ Peanut Allergies Were Cured, At Least Temporarily

A probiotic may be the key to fighting allergies to peanut proteins

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smithsonian.com

Peanut allergies are increasingly common and extremely dangerous, especially for kids. But a team of Australian researchers say they were able to cure the potentially fatal allergy—at least temporarily—in a small group of Australian children.

In Melbourne, Australia, researchers treated a group of 28 kids with peanut allergies with a probiotic and peanut protein and a control group of 28 allergic kids with a placebo. Over the next 18 months, the researchers increased the dose of peanut protein for the test group. By the end of the trial, 23 of kids in that group—about 80 percent of them—were able to eat peanuts without any reaction at all.

“These findings provide the first vital step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly other food allergies,” Mimi Tang, a pediatric allergist immunologist who led the study, told the Australian Associated Press.

The probiotic/peanut treatment could be big news for parents of the 1.4 percent of American children who have peanut allergies, but researchers are urging caution. They note that one of the children in the control group was able to eat peanut products after the trial concluded, even though that child only received a placebo. Scientists have no idea if the effects of the study will be permanent—and since the study did cause “serious reactions” in some children during treatment, they warn parents not to try replicating the experiment at home.

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