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Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success"

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the what-doesn't-kill-me dept.

United Kingdom 192

cold fjord writes: "The BBC reports, 'Peanuts are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions to food. There is no treatment so the only option for patients is to avoid them completely, leading to a lifetime of checking every food label before a meal. The trial ... tried to train the children's immune system to tolerate peanut. Every day they were given a peanut protein powder — starting off on a dose equivalent to a 70th of a peanut. Once a fortnight the dose was increased while the children were in hospital and then they continued taking the higher dose at home. The majority of patients learned to tolerate the peanut. ... Dr Andrew Clark, told the BBC: "It really transformed their lives dramatically, this really comes across during the trial. ... Dr Pamela Ewan added ... further studies would be needed and that people should not try this on their own as this "should only be done by medical professionals in specialist settings."' The story also notes, 'The findings, published in the Lancet, suggest 84% of allergic children could eat the equivalent of five peanuts a day after six months.'"

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192 comments

Sometimes you feel like a nut... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118019)

sometimes you don't

Almond Joy has nuts

Mounds don't.

Standard practice... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118029)

in treating various allergies in the past 10 years. Good studies since 70's.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/147019

Re:Standard practice... (3, Insightful)

Shimbo (100005) | about 6 months ago | (#46118129)

It's not a particularly surprising result but it's one thing saying that after the fact, and another to do a good quality trial. 90-99% of science (well, to be honest, pretty much of everything worth doing) takes skill and patience rather than a moment of brilliance.

Re:Standard practice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119267)

i would be interested in the long term effects of a controlled experiment. I found out I had food allergies much later in life, because I had accumulated damage to my digestive tract, and pinning down the cause of the allergy was not easy because I had built up a tolerance from spending years not knowing to avoid a few specific things. The tolerance was enough that it was at first difficult to determine exactly what I was allergic to, but once sorted out and stopped eating those things, the tolerance dropped and it became more obvious. The issue for me, was even with the built up tolerance, making it hard to notice any problems while eating something, is that parts of the body were still mildly responding and becoming inflamed in a way that allowed long term damage.

Re:Standard practice... (4, Interesting)

ebh (116526) | about 6 months ago | (#46119947)

Who was it who said, "Most scientific discoveries aren't hailed with 'Eureka!', but rather with, 'Hmmm, that's weird.'"?

Re:Standard practice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119999)

That is how some of the greatest discoveries are made, but not how "most" are made in the sense that large part of science is grunt work checking things that are somewhat obvious to check, but still need to be checked carefully.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

Fred Kroon (3520257) | about 6 months ago | (#46120049)

Isaac Asimov, I believe

Re:Standard practice... (5, Informative)

DMiax (915735) | about 6 months ago | (#46118165)

Correct. But I suspect the hurdle here was to isolate the allergenic factor and administering it correctly. It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts: you have to find the right protein, isolate it and dose it. It can be a bitch to do. The results prove that the protein was the right one and that the doses were ok. Finally, the treatment does not work with any substance: there are things that will remain lethal whatever happens as our immune system just cannot catch them. So that is another good news.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 6 months ago | (#46118335)

Well...
No.
You need to prove it with a protein extract, if you hope to make a peanut allergy drug.
If you just want to treat peanut allergy, there is no really good reason that a tiny, tiny bit of peanut butter in a large meal won't work.
Start out at a dose which does not kill, and boost the dosage 10%/day.

Re:Standard practice... (5, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 6 months ago | (#46118703)

there is no really good reason that a tiny, tiny bit of peanut butter in a large meal won't work.

Yes there is. Peanut butter, no matter how well you stir it, will have random clumps of the allergen and people will die. More stirring does not solve the problem. Random does not mean equal distribution. It means random distribution, some of which will be in larger clumps.

Re:Standard practice... (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46118821)

However I could see a lot of parents trying this, to a disastrous effect, because it could be the kid who has extremely small tolerance, will get too much and hurt themselves. or increasing the dosage goes too fast for the child.

The real benefit of giving these kids treatments, isn't so they can have a peanut butter sandwich, but have foods that have touched nuts, and go to school and sit at the same table as someone eating a Peanut butter sandwich.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46119135)

However I could see a lot of parents trying this, to a disastrous effect, because it could be the kid who has extremely small tolerance, will get too much and hurt themselves. or increasing the dosage goes too fast for the child.

I can see this happening a lot in America. After all, any parents who want to do this will be faced with a $100,000 medical bill for this service, probably denied by insurance, so they'll resort to doing it themselves since it sounds so simple.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46119281)

Exactly, 6 Peanuts a day isn't enough tolerance to enjoy a peanut butter sandwich, but it would mean that my kids (who aren't allergic to peanuts) could bring one to school, without worrying about harming some kid who is allergic. Most schools in my area have gone completely peanut free, and while there is a decent selection of snacks with peanut free labels, I feel like it would be nice if we could go back to a point where kids could bring whichever snacks they wanted.

On a side note, I think it's kind of contradictory that all pre-packaged snacks have to have the peanut free labeling, while home-made snacks prepared in my own kitchen (which definitely isn't peanut free) are completely fine. I think if snacks prepared in my kitchen are ok (provided peanuts aren't an actual ingredient), that packaged snacks without peanuts as an actual ingredient should also be OK.

Re:Standard practice... (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46118337)

It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts.

Excuse my ignorance but why isn't it that simple? If you started feeding people with 1/70 of a peanut and worked your way up wouldn't that have the same effect as extracting the protein responsible fro the reaction and doing the same thing?

Re:Standard practice... (3, Insightful)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 6 months ago | (#46118369)

The thing is, if you just use peanuts you can't charge £100 a shot for the drug.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 6 months ago | (#46118811)

I think you missed where this work was done. The NHS don't pay $100 a shot for many things.

As for how much the shots cost in the US, well that's anyone's guess. But the price in the States is unlikely to be a result of this research.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 6 months ago | (#46119017)

What's even better, is that in the US it could cost wildly differently based on who the health provider is.

I did immunotherapy shots for seasonal allergies in the recent past, and the only reason I could afford it was because the HMO I was a patient of administered the shots via "nurse practitioners", so there was a $5 copay per shot plus 30 minutes of reading magazines to make sure I'm still breathing. And that's it.

I really miss that health plan - I'd still be with them if I hadn't moved across the country for a promotion.

Re:Standard practice... (3, Insightful)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 6 months ago | (#46118533)

Because these people tend to die when they eat peanuts. You need to know how to do it in a very careful, controlled manner otherwise people will die. Mostly children. That would be a bad thing.

Re:Standard practice... (4, Informative)

somepunk (720296) | about 6 months ago | (#46118587)

Not every 70th part is the same. Not homogenous. There's different stuff on the surface, probably a couple layers, and then there's the germ of the seed vs the bulk which is food for the germinating plant, and so on.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

clickety6 (141178) | about 6 months ago | (#46118823)

So we blend it first and then divide it into 70ths?

Re:Standard practice... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 6 months ago | (#46119023)

You would have to have a really tiny blender if you were only blending one peanut!

Re:Standard practice... (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 6 months ago | (#46119109)

Blend 70,000 peanuts. Administer to 1,000 people.

Re:Standard practice... (3, Insightful)

_anomaly_ (127254) | about 6 months ago | (#46119485)

1,000 peanuts and 70,000 people

;-)

Re:Standard practice... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119031)

Or we can accept that the scientists already had a disscussion all but identical to the one we're having here so far and arrived at the conclusion they have arrived at because they've been talking about it longer than the 5 minutes we have here.

Seriously, when did we start quesitoning every little method just because we "think" we know better despite the obvious fact we are not all doctors... /rant

Re:Standard practice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119437)

What scientists? What doctors? The parent posts weren't replying to scientists or doctors. They were replying to a Slashdot blow-hard who made an implausible claim.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 6 months ago | (#46119097)

Correct. But I suspect the hurdle here was to isolate the allergenic factor and administering it correctly. It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts: you have to find the right protein, isolate it and dose it. It can be a bitch to do. The results prove that the protein was the right one and that the doses were ok. Finally, the treatment does not work with any substance: there are things that will remain lethal whatever happens as our immune system just cannot catch them. So that is another good news.

No you don't. You could just use ground peanuts.

Re:Standard practice... (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46118293)

It seems that it WAS standard practice for a long time then medicine forgot all about it for a few years and decided avoidance was the only useful strategy.

Now they seem to be back to the idea that desensitization works and avoidance just causes more allergies. Peanut allergy is a growing problem in the UK because expectant mothers were urged to avoid peanuts.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 months ago | (#46118347)

Oh yes but the peanut powder has been patented and costs $2000 per month to administer... ...probably...

Re:Standard practice... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46119165)

In the UK, no. It'll be dirt cheap, and probably free for the patients since the government takes care of that kind of thing.

In the USA, no. Your $2000/month figure is too low. Probably more like $10-20,000 per month. And it probably won't be covered by insurance, so we'll have a bunch of parents trying to do it themselves, to disastrous effect.

Re:Standard practice... (5, Interesting)

marsu_k (701360) | about 6 months ago | (#46118377)

My daughter's milk allergy (yes, milk allergy, not lactose intolerance) was treated this way. It started with an almost homeopathic dosage, one drop of milk diluted to 1/20 per day, gradually increasing the dosage over six months. Now she's able to use dairy products freely, which is great. But the treatment doesn't really get rid of the allergy, it just builds a resistance for it, requiring that she gets at least some milk protein in her diet daily. I'll echo the summary though - don't try this without a medical professional.

Re:Standard practice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119205)

1/20 is *far* off of homeopathic dosages. Homeopathic dilutions are generally on the order of 1/100000000000 000000000 000000000 0000000 0000000 0000000 00000 00000. One particular flu remedy is diluted approximately 1/1000000 0000000 000000 000000000 00000000 00000000 0000000 0000000 0000000 00000000 000000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 000000000 00000000 000000000 00000000 000000000 0000000000 00000000 000000000 00000000 00000000000 0000000000 000000000 00000000 000000000 00000000000 000000000 0000000 00000000 00000000000 0000000000 00000000 00000000 000000000 000000000 000000000 00000000000 0000000000 00000000000 000000000 00000000 00000.

I mean, it's been a long time since I've done a significant amount of math, and I couldn't do a Fourier transform anymore, but I think by inspection you can see that 1/20 isn't anywhere close to a homeopathic dosage.

Re:Standard practice... (2)

marsu_k (701360) | about 6 months ago | (#46119327)

I knew, this being slashdot, someone would nitpick over that :) OK, so it's not near homeopathic, what I meant was that the initial dose is so small it seems it couldn't possibly have any effect.

Re:Standard practice... (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#46119717)

... the initial dose is so small it seems it couldn't possibly have any effect.

Possible is a word that shouldn't be thrown around lightly in science and medicine, especially in the phrase, "couldn't possibly" when you are referring to things like this. Unimaginably small doses of things can kill people, depending on the person's sensitivity. Botulism toxin is lethal on the order of 10^-9 g/kg.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 6 months ago | (#46120173)

"Unimaginable" is a word that shouldn't be thrown around lightly.
Come on guys, as far as literary constructs used to convey meaning, comparing the initial dose to homeopathic values isn't crazy.
And nitpicking the correction that it SEEMED like it couldn't possibly have an effect is just being an asshole. Like most of your NSA rants.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | about 6 months ago | (#46119629)

How bad was her allergy to start with? My son's is so bad that he even has a topical response if he touches dairy. He's got peanut allergy at the same level, too. That's what I don't understand about these studies. If my son walks into a room with peanut shells on the floor he starts having trouble breathing. If some kid spills a milkshake he gets hives all over the place. I just don't see how 1/70th of a peanut would be OK. Maybe 1/700th?

Re:Standard practice... (1)

marsu_k (701360) | about 6 months ago | (#46119881)

It was bad, she got also skin reactions from mere touch and she did (still does though) carry an Epipen with her at all times, but the doctors said they've treated even worse cases. Apparently the treatment is more effective / more likely to work in younger children. The treatment is still somewhat experimental, luckily I live in a town with a university hospital that does a lot of research. I'm not a medical professional so I'm not able to advice you further sadly, but if you're interested try to contact them [www.pshp.fi] (or have your doctor do so).

Just some background science... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118389)

The practice is Specific Immunotherapy (SIT) and they do it a lot in Europe.
You make immunoglobulins, IgG, IgA, IgM, and specific to an allergic response: IgE.
Basically, when you are allergic to something, you have IgE antibodies against the allergen. For example, if you are allergic to cat, you are probably (90%) allergic to the protein FelD1 and you would have IgE-anti-FelD1 (IgE antibodies that can specifically bind to the FelD1 protein of cat).
When IgE binds to the cat protein, you get the effects of allergy (i.e. release of histamine etc).
With SIT, you are trying to stimulate the immune response, but at a lower level than what would trigger your IgE response.
A result of SIT is that you make more and more IgG4 antibody (if you were having SIT for your cat allergy, you would be making more IgG4-anti-FelD1 for example).
The way that IgG4 blocks your allergic response is complex and not totally understood (but well observed).
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2011.02628.x/pdf

Interestingly, this effect is observed 'in the wild' with beekeepers and their allergy to the Pla protein of bee venom.

Re:Standard practice... (2)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 6 months ago | (#46118529)

I agree it's based on the same idea, but this is quite a different thing. House dust antigen is relatively harmless and leads to worsening of atopic (asthma, eczema etc.) symptoms in some people. This new trial looks at treating people who have an anaphylactic response to peanuts ("immediate hypersensitivity reaction after peanut ingestion" from the article). People in this category die rapidly if they eat a peanut, which is why they carry epi-pens. Even with immediate epinephrine (adrenaline) some people could end up needing intubation and ventilation when exposed. Treating these sorts of reactions with desensitisation therapy is certainly not "standard practice" and would be groundbreaking if these findings can be confirmed on a wider scale and turned into treatment regimens for non-research settings.

Re:Standard practice... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 6 months ago | (#46118987)

Yes, standard immunotherapy shots for seasonal allergies have been doing this for some time. But, it hasn't been an effective method of treatment for several allergies, specifically food allergies like shellfish and nuts.

Apparently we can take that last one off the list.

(Note: I underwent immunotherapy for seasonal allergies, which helped some, but did nothing for my main year-round allergy to dust mites, which are practically impossible to avoid.)

the remaining 16% (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 6 months ago | (#46118069)

were given nice funerals, or what?

Re:the remaining 16% (2)

nsuccorso (41169) | about 6 months ago | (#46118095)

They were given a 6th peanut.

Re:the remaining 16% (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118119)

Probably just epinephrine, or some antihistamines.

Re:the remaining 16% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118151)

Probably couldn't tolerate having as many as five peanuts a day after six months. Maybe they could only take four before experiencing a mild allergic reaction. Or only three.

Re:the remaining 16% (5, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46118303)

Contrary to the media hype, MOST people with peanut allergies don't have a fatal reaction. Just in case, the dosing was started in a hospital setting.

Re:the remaining 16% (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 6 months ago | (#46118327)

They were the first members of the new super-secret Peanut Mutant Soldiers.

To avoid being called the PMS unit, they were later renamed (to avoid being called the PMS unit) to Peanut Elements Non Inmunized Soldiers.

Re:the remaining 16% (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 6 months ago | (#46118345)

Ahh the Peppermint Pattie Berets

Re:the remaining 16% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118689)

You guys are making me pull up the band name list file and make some new entries.

Re:the remaining 16% (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46118839)

For most of them they probably got a shot of benadryl or some steroid to stop the allergic reaction. That is why this needs to be done under a doctors supervision.

Why? (4, Interesting)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | about 6 months ago | (#46118143)

Not why do it, but why does the treatment work? The cited Lancet article doesn't seem to offer any answers (or hint at any efforts to find them).... development of enzyme reserves??

And what of the annecdotal relationship between peanut allergies and *not* breast feeding?

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118177)

as said above, this is normal. The reason for the allergy is an over-response to the antigen. upon normal exposue, The mast cells release their chemicals to try and attack what it regards as foreign. But, we do not want that. So, you put a little bit in there on a weekly basis and monitor the patient for 30 minutes. If no reaction, they are good. If reaction, then epipen can stop it. At that point, back it down. What is different here, is that they started with a much lower dose. IOW, nothing really different, but, peanut reactions are normally SEVERE. They are not like cat/dog allergy, where you get a small rash. just simple exposure to a peanut will kill the majority of these ppl.

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118199)

Allergy is an immune system reaction to something that shouldn't be a problem in the first place. It thinks that something (in this case peanuts) is dangerous, and launches a full scale defense.

The trick here is simply to get the immune system used to the substance causing the reaction, so that it will think it's normal, rather than becoming defensive. This seems to work, as long as you increase the dose slowly. The method has been used with some success against other allergies for some time, but trying it on an often fatal allergy like peanut allergy is new.

Now, why peanut allergy is so much more dangerous than all the other allergies, I have no idea. But as this trial worked, it does indicate that peanut allergy works like any other allergy.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118225)

Probably for the same reason(s) it seems to work for desensitizing people to other allergans. Now was it a specific peanut protein or protein(s) from some of the molds that add aflatoxins to peanuts (yes that amount is non-zero and regulated to a relatively low level in the US).

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | about 6 months ago | (#46118251)

In terms of the actual mechanism: as far as I recall, immune cells develop with a random specificity: It's pure chance what they'll recognise.

If they're exposed to something that they will react to in their development time, they die: This is how we prevent them from reacting to ourselves.

So although it won't do anything to existing immune cells, the persistent presence of peanuts will at least prevent any new immune cells popping up that will react to them.

Finally. (-1, Troll)

Adult film producer (866485) | about 6 months ago | (#46118219)

I won't have to hear parents yapping about how their child is special and needs to be protected from the rest of us. It's not us anymore.. it's them!

Luckily (4, Funny)

Meneth (872868) | about 6 months ago | (#46118237)

I've spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocaine powder. :)

Re:Luckily (0, Redundant)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 6 months ago | (#46118353)

My name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die!!!!

Re:Luckily (2)

TWX (665546) | about 6 months ago | (#46119369)

My name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die!!!!

My name is Indigo Magenta. You killed my color. Prepare to dye!

Expert analysis from the UK's NHS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118243)

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/01January/Pages/Peanut-allergy-therapy-shows-promise.aspx

Been There, Done That (1, Funny)

Zynder (2773551) | about 6 months ago | (#46118245)

I claim prior art! I've spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

Cute Little Winners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118247)

Imagine that: Beautiful girl, condemned to an type of hypersensitive disorder that would affect her more psychologically than physically. Just because a tiny little peanut. I see this achievement not just a great advance on science, but for the kids too. Technology can help society to improve our way of life, but these kind of research, like penicillin advent for example, helps more the small slice of people that could have more chances of success, rather than the major healthy part of it, commonly composed by lazy social network junkies.

Ironically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118257)

5 of the children in the study subsequently choked to death on peanuts.

Isn't that what homeopathy was all along? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118271)

From wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy - Hahnemann believed that the underlying causes of disease were phenomena that he termed miasms, and that homeopathic remedies addressed these. The remedies are prepared by repeatedly diluting a chosen substance in alcohol or distilled water, followed by forceful striking on an elastic body..

Re:Isn't that what homeopathy was all along? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 6 months ago | (#46118575)

Short answer, nope.

Re:Isn't that what homeopathy was all along? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46120031)

The only similarity between this treatment and Homeopathy is the tiny dosage, though by Homeopathic standards 1/70th of a peanut is an off the charts dosage.

The Page is dead. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118291)

Our hope is lost.

you faiDl it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118297)

than m4ke a sincere

now i know how to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118299)

get rid of those annoying yard-monkey ankle-biters next door! thanks!

Nutty parents (4, Interesting)

giorgist (1208992) | about 6 months ago | (#46118339)

I know of parents that don't give peanuts to their kids since babies, just in case they have allergies. So the kid does not develop protection. They give them allergies out of paranoia

Re:Nutty parents (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 months ago | (#46118367)

I know of parents that don't give peanuts to their kids since babies, just in case they have allergies. So the kid does not develop protection. They give them allergies out of paranoia

The problem is not that the kid doesn't develop protection. The kid develops a very strong protection mechanism against peanuts, so strong that it can kill. Because peanuts are unknown they are assumed to be a threat.

But you're right; it is a case where trying to protect the children is the worst you can do.

Re:Nutty parents (4, Interesting)

gnoshi (314933) | about 6 months ago | (#46118381)

The advice being provided by the state-provided Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia (or at least, the ones I know of) is now to start giving children pulverized nuts (so they don't choke on them) as part of their diet from the very beginning of consuming food, apparently for this exact reason.

Re:Nutty parents (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118431)

Most adults don't swell up and die just because they encounter something new.

So we shouldn't assume that it's such a great idea to intentionally introduce such allergenic foods to young children without independently reproducible proper scientific studies (too much fraud nowadays) proving that it's a better idea for most.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com... [wiley.com]

. The most effective dietary regimen is exclusively breastfeeding for at least 4â"6 months or, in absence of breast milk, formulas with documented reduced allergenicity for at least the first 4 months, combined with avoidance of solid food and cow's milk for the first 4 months.

I know some parents introduce some foods before the baby is even 6 months. But as the recommendation says - exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4-6 months.

So maybe these hyperallergic kids were getting traces of peanuts while they and their immune systems were way too young, or at the same time they were fighting off some infection (plenty of people carrying em etc). And so when later on they get a bigger dose, their immune system goes on all out war.

Re: Nutty parents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118627)

I don't have the literature to back me up, but my ped recommended waiting until 12mo to introduce peanuts. It apparently doesn't affect the allergy rate (much?), but more importantly the kid has a much better chance of making it to the ER alive at 12mo than 6mo if they have a severe allergy.

Re:Nutty parents (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46119387)

All the research today shows at the very least no increase in risk of allergies by starting common allergens earlier, and several studies show improvement with it. If you don't have a family history of food allergies, there is basically nothing you cannot feed to your child as soon as they are able to safely chew and swallow it. The only exceptions are corn syrup and honey (which can cause infant botulism) and diary milk (mostly because it doesn't have enough iron and they should be on formula or breast milk).

Keep a bottle of infant benedryl around and pay attention to their reaction when trying out new things.

Re:Nutty parents (1)

bigwillystylie (261466) | about 6 months ago | (#46118649)

They are called Analphylactics.

Re:Nutty parents (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#46118773)

Like recent research that illustrates a strong inverse relationship between having pets generally (and dogs specifically) in the family and childhood allergies (http://www.pediatrics.wisc.edu/featured-stories/allergies.html), my understanding is that there's a growing preponderance of clinical trials and evidence that suggests that MANY of the growing number of widespread childhood allergies have to do with controllable factors in the environment (ie hyper-clean environments, antibacterial soap, etc).

Re:Nutty parents (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 6 months ago | (#46119573)

Because the pediatricians tell us that if we give peanuts to a child under 2 years old, he will die (ok... they really just strongly advise against it). Should we ignore the advice of the pediatricians and medical practitioners that supposedly spent a long time in school, have followed studies related to childhood development and allergies, and whom we trust to help us fix our kid when he is running a 105 degree fever, covered in a rash, and vomiting?

We are also advised to avoid honey during the first year due to pathogens that babies do not have the proper immune response to handle and when introducing new food to babies we are advised to try them one at a time so we know that it was the tomatoes that caused the baby to break out in hives and not the yogurt.

There is a whole list of foods that babies should avoid at different times for a variety of reasons. You don't pop out a baby and start giving them peanut butter sandwiches the next day. You have to give their immune system and digestive functions time to develop.

so not a treatment for small nuts? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118355)

I'm so tired of having nuts that fit in my pants.

"There is no treatment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118491)

Bullshit. I had a peanut allergy as an infant and my mom treated it by giving me a tiny amount of peanut butter every day.

Now, I love me some peanut butter sammiches.

Desensitization is a treatment, and one that works. If anything, the peanut allergy craze has been made worse by total avoidance.

Re:"There is no treatment" (3, Insightful)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 6 months ago | (#46118537)

Then you probably didn't have an anaphylactic "immediate hypersensitivity reaction after peanut ingestion" as the article says. If you had, your mother probably would have been terrified of putting you near a peanut ever again.

Feed your kids, people (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 6 months ago | (#46118599)

Feed your kids real food, people, and let them play in the dirt. Get a pet. If you want your kid to have a healthy normal life, expose them to things in normal life. If you wrap them in Triclosan-scented everything and feel them gluten/soy/sugarfree Brawndo for years, they'll never learn to metabolize or tolerate anything else. Life carries risk, and as much as public education has taught you that causality is a human construct, it ain't - learn to deal with things or they'll deal with you, you pussies.

Re:Feed your kids, people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118661)

+1

Harden the fuck up.

Re:Feed your kids, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119169)

Do either of you have any parenting experience?

Oh, and playing in the dirt was safe(r) 50 years ago; today, with all the crap put into plants, air and water, it's a surprise allergies is all we get.

Re:Feed your kids, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119443)

Second this. No parenting experience probably from the know-it-all above.

My daughter has a tree nut allergy. She plays in the dirt and climbs trees more than any other kid in the neighborhood. I give her high fives when she comes home with scrapes and bruises. We own a cat and a dog. She has a fish tank in her bedroom. She plays team sports and has been around neighborhood kids since birth as well as in regular classrooms since starting pre-school at age 3.5. She eats "real food" from local farms, meat from local farmers/butchers, plus some of the junk food we all ate growing up as kids in the 70s and 80s.

The so called "hygiene hypothesis" hasn't been proven and doesn't lend any useful, actionable information. I think it's hogwash. I wish food allergies were that simple ("let them play in the dirt") but they aren't. I can't wait until more is discovered about their origins and how to reduce the incidence of them.

Re:Feed your kids, people (2)

F. Lynx Pardinus (2804961) | about 6 months ago | (#46119561)

Same here. I developed an allergy to a certain type of tree nut. Before I went into shock as a child, my parents fed me all sorts of food and nuts, no hesitations. It's bizarre when people assume that food allergies are caused by parental avoidance--usually they just happen.

Re:Feed your kids, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119699)

I have a daughter who is deathly allergic to peanuts. We discovered this when she was just 14 months old when we introduced some peanut butter into some yogurt. She wasn't even eating capable of eating 'real food' as you say, and she did plenty of normal play for someone her age and size, so this isn't as simple as just exposing them to allergens and letting them 'buck up'. She was obviously born highly sensitive to it. Ridiculous how to the unaffected the solution is so easy and simple. Walk a mile before you open your mouth and prove your ignorance.

Re:Feed your kids, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119713)

Fuck some girls, you geek. Drink some beer. Pop your zits. Move out from your parents' basement. Lose the black long trench coats and goth makeup. Stop playing Magic and EVE. Get some friends.

Any other useless stereotypes you want to throw out?

Re:Feed your kids, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46119739)

Feed your kids real food, people, and let them play in the dirt. Get a pet.

This seems to be the prevailing wisdom these days. But it didn't work for me. I grew up with pets playing in the dirt and became an adult who was extremely allergic to everything I was tested for. In fact the stuff I was not allergic to, cows and horses, were things I had never been exposed to. So the opposite wisdom would seem to have applied better in my situation. Allergy shots didn't work for me either. The summary hints that the peanut treatment worked for 84% of patients. Well there's 16% of us out here who don't have an explanation for why we are suffering.

Re:Feed your kids, people (4, Insightful)

orgelspieler (865795) | about 6 months ago | (#46120149)

OK. So I have two kids. Both of them were raised essentially the same way. If anything, the younger was coddled more, and spent less time in daycare. Yet the elder has severe dairy allergy, and the younger has none. My brother and I grew up in the same house exposed to the same pets, playing in the same dirt. I am allergic to cats now. He is not. My wife has peanut allergy; her sister does not. The list could go on, but you get my point.

Are you really implying that people should feed their kids food they're allergic to? "Well son, sure you can't breathe and you're covered in hives, but at least Gothmolly doesn't think you're a pussy!"

Do you really think it's as simple as "go play in dirt and you won't get allergies"? I've got a different unsupported hypothesis pulled out of my ass. The reason why more sanitary countries have more allergies is because in the developing world, the people with allergies don't live long enough to pass their genes down to the next generation. Had I been born in some third world country, I would have died before I turned 10 due to respiratory problems.

Can you train to tolerate snake venom? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46118683)

The old wives tale in India is that the snake charmers give their children minute doses of snake venom at a very age and slowly increase the dosage. The claim is that they become tolerant to snake venom and if a snake bites them, the snake would die. Though it seems within the realm of possibility, I don't think it would work. Snake venoms are neurotoxins easily neutralized by stomach acids. So eating venom would not really help boost any kind of immunity. Even if the snake charmers did follow this practice, the benefit they get must be placebo effect.

Hat tip to Dr Romulus Whitaker [wikipedia.org] . He trained the traditional snake hunting tribes to switch to milking the venom and releasing the snakes back into the wild. Great work saving these great snakes, reducing vermin and saving a significant percentage of the harvest of that part of the world. Sadly he is completely allergic to anti-venom now, due to numerous treatment for snake bites in the past. So next bite he gets, he would die. Shows one could develop intolerance instead of tolerance by repeated exposure to toxins.

Re:Can you train to tolerate snake venom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118761)

Not sure about snake venom, but immunotherapy with venom similar to what is described in this article is a treatment with a high success rate for wasp, honeybee, and fire ant sting allergies.

This isn't the hokey "sting you with a dead bee" therapy though, it's isolated allergenic proteins administered in a clinical setting with careful monitoring and a ramp-up period.

Re:Can you train to tolerate snake venom? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46119085)

They introduce the allergens via skin patches, not as oral medications. So I am kind of sure eating venom will not confer immunity.

Sorry (1)

ledow (319597) | about 6 months ago | (#46118747)

Who the hell didn't know this already? I've been bleating about it for ages.

It's almost entirely caused by the "avoid peanuts during pregnancy" self-fulfilling prophecy (if you do so, chances are the next generation will be more allergic to peanuts).

When I was a kid, the kid who was "allergic" was rare, one-in-a-whole-school kind of event. Nowadays, working in schools, I see medical lists in schools where something like 20% of their roll lists are allergic to something-or-other.

Nuts figure heavily, as does kiwi - I can sort of understand kiwi. It's a rare fruit that you probably WON'T have contact with until later in life. But nuts? Those were in almost everything when I was a kid (peanut butter for a start).

Ladies should not avoid nuts in pregnancy. There's no reason to. In the womb, the baby won't be affected adversely by them anyway (unless the mother is also allergic - hence the growing problem), but it will seed their immune systems to cope with it.

Re:Sorry (2)

DrProton (79239) | about 6 months ago | (#46119449)

The actual "disease" here is affluenza, or perhaps it's anxiety that overprotective mothers project onto their children. I grew up in a small town, had pets, played in the dirt every day. Nut allergies were unheard of. It's also very interesting that farmers and dirt poor people in 3d world countries don't get these allergies. This is a problem that city dwellers construct. It's called the hygiene hypothesis.

It is very suspicious that neither the BBC article nor the Lancet abstract report a mortality statistic. Is there some problem counting bodies of people who drop dead after nut ingestion? Please don't quote me the stupid 150 deaths/year number one sees in peanut allergy articles here in America. That number was an extrapolation from a single study done of farmers in a county in Minnesota. There were no deaths from anaphylactic shock identified in the study. Somehow, the authors waved their hands and estimated 150 deaths/yr in the entire US. Meredith Broussard covered this in an article published in Harper's in Jan 2008, "Everyone's Gone Nuts." It's behind a paywall, unfortunately. I recall that the article quoted a statistician at the CDC who said there was no more than a handful of deaths in the US from anaphylactic shock in a year. Of course, the food allergist nut cases (pun intended) attacked her in droves.

There is an article by Broussard online. It covers the money trail and details how some people profit from the nut allergy scare.

I think the nut allergies are a bit like the terrorism scare. It is massively overblown. Falls in bathtubs and lightning strikes are far greater threats.

Re:Sorry (1)

DrProton (79239) | about 6 months ago | (#46119503)

Well, the posting system stripped off my carefully inserted links. WTF, slashdot? I'd post the code to illustrate, but it just gets stripped out. Here are some URLS to go with my post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01... [nytimes.com] Jane Brody on the hygiene hypothesis
http://www.slate.com/articles/... [slate.com] Broussard article on slate.com

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46120057)

Well damn, you should have told them - we could have saved a ot of science if you just told people you knew it all already. Next time SPEAK UP! Any other random insight you can share the world to save us all?

Also works ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46118873)

... for going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Nuts to me (2)

aggles (775392) | about 6 months ago | (#46119091)

My allergy to peanuts and cashews has been going strong for over 50 years and I'm still alive. Peanuts and cashews are the worst, and to me, the difference is like between a bee (peanut) and yellow-jacket (cashew) sting. Similar reaction, but stronger and nastier. Peas, lima beans and lentils also cause an allergic sensation, but won't get me sick

As a kid, today you get protected, but once out on your own, shit happens. In third grade, I knew I couldn't eat the peanut butter candy we were making in class, but wanted to help, so I stirred it. That got me sent home with my eyes swollen shut. Later in life, I've been hit by a "maple frosted" donut, learned about mole sauce and sate sauce the hard way (note to self; watch out if the E on the end of the sauce's name is pronounced as A). Those cut up garlic pieces in the dipping sauce at the Thai restaurant were actually chopped peanuts. Those rice crispy squares only had 1 tablespoon of peanut butter in the batch, but it got me. The chicken salad sandwich with cashews did too. I could probably die from a large dose, but sense it pretty quickly. What gets my goat is the warnings on packaged goods saying the product was made in a factory that uses peanuts. I ignore those labels and only sensed peanuts in M&M plains and a Hershey White Chocolate candy bar.

For me, the smallest bit ingested means I'm going to puke. It might take 10 minutes or three hours, but it is going to happen. Normally, once I know it is in my system (seconds after swallowing), I'll drink a bunch of water and try to puke it out of my system. That sort of works. I also get wheezy and my throat closes a bit, but not as bad as others report. Then, I get sleepy. Even the dust in the airplane gets my eyes itchy. Years ago, I tried the desensitization approach on my own, but didn't like the reaction and stopped pretty quick.

So its true... (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 6 months ago | (#46119839)

Allergies mean you are a pussy.

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