MAR 24, 2016 12:09 PM PDT

To Prevent Peanut Allergy, Eat Peanuts?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Researchers have identified 13 proteins contained in peanuts that trigger immune responses. Because these proteins aren't destroyed fully by the intestines, they can still cause deadly allergic reactions even after digestion. Though we know the proteins that trigger the reactions, we don't know the mechanisms behind it, and why even trace amounts can send people in the ER for anaphylactic shock.

But within the last two decades, peanut allergies in the US have tripled in number. What gives? Surprisingly, researchers think that in an effort to prevent peanut allergy, people are inadvertently creating immune systems that are even more sensitive to the proteins in peanuts. Ever heard of the conventional wisdom that prevents giving peanut product to babies? It seems that this may actually increase the risk of peanut allergy. As such, a recent report says that the key to peanut allergy is peanut exposure early on. Seem counterintuitive? Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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