"An End To Food Allergies?"
An estimated 26 million people, including six million children, have at least one food allergy. Peanut allergies are believed to be among the most severe. That's led to peanuts being banned at schools, stadiums, even the skies, where Southwest Airlines stopped serving them on its planes last year. In the past, parents were encouraged by experts to never give their children peanuts until age three. There are a lot of theories why peanut allergies are on the rise. "It goes from what we call the hygiene or cleanliness hypothesis to vitamin D, to the way that the biology of our bodies may have changed, or even the food supply," said Scott Sicherer, MD, director of the Elliott and Rosalyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at The Mount Sinai Hospital. So how do you end food allergies? Experts such as Dr. Sicherer have been experimenting with pills and patches. "This bypasses the mouth, and slowly teaches the body to accept peanut and to try to stop attacking it," said Dr. Sicherer. "It's sort of like a nicotine patch for peanut." Now, experts are encouraging parents to feed their children peanuts early and often, which has led to an 81 percent decrease in cases.
— Scott Sicherer, MD, Director, Elliot and Rosalyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, The Mount Sinai Hospital, Chief, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Professor, Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai