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Kids' Peanut Allergy Treated, With Peanuts

This story was written by CBSNews.com's Tucker Reals in London.
(AP / CBS)
Medical researchers at a Cambridge University hospital took four kids who were highly allergic to peanuts — eating the smallest amount would send them into possibly-deadly anaphylactic shock — and started giving them tiny doses of peanut flour ever day. Now, they can eat peanuts.

The small-scale study at Cambridge's Addenbrooke's Hospital successfully "desensitized" these kids to peanuts, by slowly feeding them larger and larger doses of their own personal kryptonite.

Other studies had tried this method before, but using injected doses of peanut oil or extract. They always failed.

The ) used miniscule portions of the flour, taken orally (as you normally would with a peanut), and then increased that dose over six months until all the kids could eat the equivalent of at least five nuts a day, some 10.

Good work, Addenbrooke's. I hope this is recorded as a victory for Team Common Sense. I'd love to know why it wasn't tried earlier.

I also hope that doctors in the Western world will stop telling pregnant women – my wife included — not to eat peanuts. I'm not a doctor, but the notion that exposure to small amounts of peanut via the placenta in the womb might actually cause an allergy simply doesn't make sense to me.

Several weeks ago, I read that babies with a severe allergy to cow's milk had also been successfully desensitized by doctors slowly building up their resistance. (Here's an article about that study.)

In China and Israel, where fetuses and young babies are routinely exposed to normal amounts of peanut as a matter of course, there are very few people with the allergy.

My wife has also been warned against eating sushi. I wonder how many women in Japan get the same advice. Another item on the list of taboo-food for pregnant women in the U.K. (and the U.S., if I recall) is soft cheese, such as brie.

We have a good friend who is English, but lived much of her life in France. She laughed when we asked her if she had avoided soft cheese during her pregnancy. Her little boy is happy and healthy, and eats everything.

Again, as a disclaimer, I'm not trying to give medical advice. I'm not qualified to do so and I think we get plenty of it anyway. Too much, perhaps.