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Gradual treatment of peanut allergies shows promise

Little by little, some children can overcome the allergy by eating more and more peanuts, but don’t try this at home

2:26pm, March 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — Very gradual introduction of peanuts into the diet — starting with less than 1/1,000th of a peanut a day — may prevent allergic reactions to peanuts in some children, a new study finds. But the bit-by-bit strategy takes time and may not work in everyone, researchers report March 15 at a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Even so, in the longest study of its kind to date, the strategy of adding slightly more and more peanuts to a child’s diet each day has enabled five children once allergic to peanuts to eat peanuts and peanut butter at will, says study coauthor Wesley Burks, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Burks and his Duke colleagues teamed with scientists at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to enroll in the study 29 children who were allergic to peanuts. As part of the protocol, each child initially received only mic

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