As many as three million Americans may be allergic to peanuts, the Huffington Post has reported, with one study suggesting that the number of kids with the allergy doubled between 1997 and 2002. But those who are affected may have a reason to smile: A new study could point the way to a cure for the condition, the Australian Associated Press reports via the Guardian. For a year and a half, 30 kids with the allergy were given peanut protein plus a probiotic every day; another 30 received a placebo, researchers at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute report.
The amount of the probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, stayed the same throughout the study; it was the amount you'd get from eating a whopping 44 pounds of yogurt every day, the AAP notes. The amount of peanut protein given per day was gradually increased. "Astoundingly," researchers say, by the end of the study, 80% of kids with allergies getting the treatment could "tolerate peanut." Only 4% of the placebo group could. "Many of the children and families believe it has changed their lives; they’re very happy," says a researcher. "These findings provide the first vital step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly other food allergies." Experts are planning further research to look at longer-term effects. But, the researcher says, don't try it at home: Some kids had serious allergic reactions during the course of the study.