In an Australian study, children were administered a probiotic containing peanut protein daily for a course of 18 months. When tested a month later, a whopping 80 percent of these kids could handle peanuts without any symptoms. And when they were tested four years after the first administration of the probiotic? A full 70 percent were still able to consume peanuts without any ill effects.
As many parents are aware, peanut allergy is one of the most life-threatening food allergies on the planet.
According to the researchers of this study, more than 250 million people worldwide are affected by various food allergies, and that number has — alarmingly — tripled over the past 20 years.
The lead researcher of the study, Professor Mimi Tang of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said, "The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don't have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanuts."
According to Tang, this is the very first time a peanut allergy treatment has appeared to be effective for such a long period of time.
The research findings were published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. Tang said the study suggests "the exciting possibility that tolerance is a realistic target for treating food allergy."
"This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies," Tang added.
If you want to get your science on (and/or impress other carpool parents if that's your thing) the probiotic's name is Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and it's been used to treat other allergies as well.
There's no cure or permanent fix yet, and let's be clear: 70 to 80 percent definitely isn't the 100 percent many parents would like to see. Still, four years of scientifically proven protection is a major boon for those who live in fear of life-threatening reactions to the omnipresent legume.