By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For families with a loved one who is allergic to peanuts there is a constant fear that an exposure might occur and, despite public education and attempts to help control potential exposure, the simple fact is that peanuts are virtually omnipresent. But, there could be hope in the future.

Several research studies have shown that, in some cases, peanut allergies may be treated by exposure to very small quantities of peanut. The report is in the journal The Lancet and it is all based on the concept of desensitizing patients by exposure to very small amounts of peanut powder.

There is a crucial point. People should not do this on their own. The studies are early and, perhaps more importantly, exposure to peanuts at even the smallest level can cause severe problems even death in those allergic.

These studies were conducted in a medical setting with the presence of physicians.

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