Big breakthrough: probiotic treatment helps prevent peanut allergy. – Food Pharmacy

Ann Fernholm

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Big breakthrough: probiotic treatment helps prevent peanut allergy.

Good news – starting today, the science journalist, writer and blogger, Ann Fernholm, will share her latest works here on our blog. First out in the line of interesting things is a big breakthrough: probiotic treatment helps prevent peanut allergy.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC 1.3724 – is the beautiful name of a very kind bacteria that can help children get rid of their peanut allergy. Yesterday, I interviewed Magnus Wickman, expert on allergies and pediatrician at Mälarsjukhuset in Eskilstuna, Sweden. He told me about a big breakthrough in allergy research.

If a person with peanut allergy eats a small dose of peanuts everyday, the allergy will recede. That’s something that scientists have know for a long time. But as soon as the person stops the treatment the allergy comes back.

– The results have been quite disheartening. Partly because the treatment has involved  big risks, and partly because you have to eat peanuts everyday, which makes it hard for people to maintain their normal life, said Magnus Wikman when we talked on the phone.

BUT. Now researchers have made a breakthrough. If you combine the peanut-treatment with the Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC 1.3724 bacteria, known to have a calming effect on the immune system, the preventing effect can be prolonged – at least for the majority of the patients.

Magnus Wikman said that it’s a big step in the right direction. Already two years ago, they published the first promising results from the studies of 56 peanut allergic children, ages 1-10. One half of them ate an increased amount of peanut protein, combined with the probiotic every day for 1,5 years, and the other half received a placebo treatment. After the treatment, the children were asked to avoid peanuts for 2-5 weeks. When they then had peanuts again, 80% in the treated group was still free from their allergy, compared to the placebo-group with only 3,6%.

Now the Australian researchers has done a follow up on 48 of the participants. It was about four years ago that they ended the treatment, but still a majority had no signs of the allergy. 16 out of 24 children – almost 70% – still ate peanuts regularly. In the placebo group, it was 1 out of 24 children. A subset group of the children went trough a blind test for their allergies. 58% in the treated group didn’t react to peanuts. That number was 7% in the placebo group.

When I talked to Magnus Wickman, he said that this breakthrough may have other effects as well. It seams like another Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria, also known as LGG, can help infants get rid of milk allergies.

– They came out with an infant formula for children with milk protein allergy containing LGG a couple of years ago. At first, I was skeptic, but later it was shown that children that had it got rid of their allergy much faster, says Magnus Wickman.

In Ann Fernholm’s book Smakäventyret (“the flavor adventure”), you can read about how babies running a risk of allergies can avoid peanut allergy if they regularly eat peanut protein during the first year of their lives. Allergy research is definitely on to something big: eat the food and take care of the intestinal flora, and you will reduce the risk of allergies.

This is incredibly exciting. Naturally, allergy researchers will now start testing the concept of probiotics with other kinds of allergies. Who knows – maybe they’ll start baking pollen cookies served with a shot of probiotics?

This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.



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