Scientists believe they have found a cure for peanut allergies.
Researchers heralded the breakthrough as 'life changing' for thousands of families who suffer extreme reaction to the nuts, with potentially fatal consequences.
Many classrooms have become nut-free zones because of the dangers posed to kids.
But now scientists in Australia believe that a strain of probiotic bacteria could bring welcome relief.
They carried out a trial involving giving a group of children increasing amounts of peanut flour, along with a probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, over an 18-month period. About 80 per cent of the children who had peanut allergies were subsequently able to tolerate peanuts.
Professor Mimi Tang, the lead researcher, said the families involved believed the treatment had 'changed their lives'.
She told Melbourne's Herald Sun: "These findings provide the vital first step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly for all food allergies."
The randomised trial, involving a group of about 30 children, was The children, aged one to ten, were given small amounts of peanut flour, gradually building up to two grams, or the equivalent of six or seven nuts.
They were also given daily doses of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is found in yoghurt but was given in quantities equivalent to the amount found in 44 pounds of yoghurt.
Following the treatment, about 80 per cent of the children were able to tolerate four grams of peanut protein, equivalent to about 14 peanuts.
Professor Tang said: "These findings provide the vital first step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly for all food allergies.
"It will be a major advance for medical science if we can find a treatment that is curative. It will change the lives completely for children and adults who have peanut allergies."
Rates of peanut allergies have dramatically increased in the past two decades, particularly in developed countries. For most sufferers, the condition is lifelong.
In Australia, about 10 per cent of 12-month-old babies and 3 per cent of infants are allergic to peanuts.
More:Advice And Health
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