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NEWSWEEK: Cover: Kids and the Growing Food Allergy Threat
Date:10/28/2007

s. Without hard-core adversaries, the theory goes, the immune system starts battling the innocuous-egg or wheat-instead, Kalb reports in the November 5 cover, "Kids and the Growing Food Allergy Threat" (on newsstands Monday, October 29).

For Sampson, the quest for a solution is more urgent than ever. "We're desperate," he tells Newsweek. Almost everyone, it seems, has had to adapt to the rise in food allergies. Affected kids are carrying EpiPens, syringelike devices loaded with epinephrine, in case of severe reactions. Many schools maintain "peanut-free zones," where allergic students can eat in safety. A growing number of states are establishing allergy guidelines.

While scientists have a basic understanding of how allergies work, they can still be stumped by the immune system, which is too complex to submit easily to their control. Kalb reports that in recent years, researchers have begun to make exciting progress. They're studying a radical approach: introducing the offending ingredients early to see if they can treat, cure or even prevent food allergies from developing. In one study, children allergic to peanuts are being given tiny amounts of peanut flour to see if they can build up tolerance. In another, funded by the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (coFAR), a five-year $17 million initiative launched in 2005 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, researchers will give peanut-allergic adults small doses of an engineered peanut protein to ward off reactions and possibly eliminate the problem. The idea is ultimately to have a peanut-allergy vaccine.

The holy grail would be to stop allergies from developing in the first place. Prof. Gideon Lack, of King's College London, has studied allergy incidence worldwide and has discovered an intriguing paradox: countries that have advised avoidance of peanuts in early childhood, like the United States, have seen the greatest rise in peanut allergies. In some Asian and African co
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SOURCE Newsweek
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