Peanut Protection

June 1, 2009

Bill Bamberger

The recent salmonella scare has raised a specter of fear around the peanut. But, every day, many people face a more common danger: a severe allergic reaction.

Wesley Burks has conducted research on food allergies, until recently an obscure and largely unexplored area of medicine, for his entire twenty-five-year medical career. Burks is working to develop a treatment for children suffering from peanut allergies, with the goal of preventing serious, accidental anaphylactic reactions.

In a series of recent studies, he has administered daily doses of peanut flour to his patients, all children, to desensitize them gradually and build their tolerance for peanut products. And while the results look promising, Burks says, parents should not try the approach on their own.