WSVN -- Severe peanut allergies made 9-year-old Noah Schaffer feel like an outsider.
Noah Schaffer: "I had to sit at a different table than other people because they had peanut butter, and I couldn't sit by my friends."
His mom worried more about his health than his popularity. Just one tenth of a peanut would cause a violent reaction.
Robyn Smith, Noah's Mom: "His lips swelled. His ears swelled up. His eyes started to close up, and he started to get hives all over his body."
But now Noah is in a Duke University study to retrain his immune system. Doctors mix a tiny amount of peanut powder-- about one thousandth of a peanut-- into a child's food, then gradually increase the dose over time.
Dr. Wesley Burks: "We see the first changes to the immune system happen about six months into treatment, and then further changes happen beyond a couple years of the treatment."
In the four-year study, 89 percent of the kids with severe peanut allergies could eat up to 15 peanuts. Twelve percent dropped out because they couldn't handle the treatment, but 25 percent lost their peanut allergies altogether, like Noah.
Robyn Smith: "He was able to eat 40 peanuts, two tablespoons of peanut butter, plus a little bit more peanut product, and he had no reaction whatsoever."
Now, he keeps up his immunity by eating daily doses of his favorite treat.
Noah Schaffer: "It tastes really good and chocolaty."
A higher tolerance for peanuts means better health for Noah and lower anxiety for the whole family.
The technique might sound simple, but the allergy treatment is closely monitored by doctors. They say parents should not try this at home.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Duke University Medical Center Division of Allergy & ImmunologyDurham, NC(919) 668-1333