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American Morning

Paging Dr. Gupta: Peanut Allergies

Aired July 11, 2003 - 08:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: For some 1.5 million Americans, peanut is a four-letter word. Allergy to peanuts is one of the most common in this country. And for the most severely allergic, eating a single peanut could be a fatal mistake.
Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN Center with more news on a potential treatment.

Good morning to you, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

It is a big issue, especially for people or family that have someone with peanut allergies, they know what we're talking about here very significant. As you mentioned already, the numbers, Soledad, 1.5 million people in the United States. Incidentally, that number is probably growing. That's something we're going to talk about here, kills more children than adults, and very significant, more significant in children than adults, and also very small amounts may actually trigger these allergies. Less than two peanuts at a time may, in fact, cause a severe, if not fatal reaction for obvious reasons, and a huge concern. A lot of research, a lot of funding being directed towards the study of peanut allergies. As I mentioned, Soledad, the numbers have probably been increasing over the last several years.

Just yesterday, in fact, a new study -- several new studies coming out about peanut allergies. I want to give you a vignette on each one of these particular studies. Take a look at some of these. First of all, there's a new diagnostic lab test. This is a very important thing. In the past, there's really been no way to tell if someone has peanut allergy, and if so, how significant. Well, that may change. As a result of that lab test, they are finding that 20 percent of young children actually outgrow their allergies.

Soledad, a lot of children who have peanut allergies at birth go through their entire lives not being able to not only eat peanuts, but not eat anything that has peanuts in them. In fact, a fifth of them outgrow them. It's important to know who those children are. Peanuts may worsen allergies and asthma. An important -- all those kids with severe asthma almost always have concurrent food allergies. Also liquid charcoal can block peanut absorption. Not many people obviously keep liquid charcoal around their home. But liquid charcoal has long been used to try and prevent ingestinal food poisoning. It may help with allergies to peanuts, as well. There is a vaccine on the horizon. It only works in animals. So far, several years before humans. But at least that's something that's being developed.

And finally, peanut butter, less allergenic than peanuts. An important point. Apparently, Soledad, it's that roasting of peanuts that actually makes them worse. Somehow, roasting the peanuts somehow makes them worse when they're actually taken. So some important news coming out in one of the prominent journals of allergy -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay, just a quick question for you. It seems like today peanut allergies are more common than maybe in the past 10 years, 15 years before that. Is that accurate, and if so, why?

GUPTA: It is accurate, and I think there's really two reasons. First reason, is that probably they're being reported more. So, in fact, those numbers haven't actually gone up, people are recognizing these peanut allergies more and actually reporting them. Second reason, sort of a little bit more interesting, is that we're finding peanut or peanut oil or some sort of peanut butter is being used in all sorts of different products. It's not just the products you think about, but peanuts are available in all sorts of foods, lotions, things like that. And children at a very young age are starting to become sensitized to the peanut ingredients, you know, through the oils, the lotions or whatsoever, and as a result of that, they may actually develop peanut allergies as they grow older in life.

So it's probably a combination of the two. But I think you're absolutely right, Soledad, there's more peanut allergies today than there probably was 20 years ago.

O'BRIEN: And final question for you, Sanjay, what percentagewise of the number of kids who are being tested for this peanut allergy? A small percentage? Do you expect that to grow?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, in the past there's really been no treatment. There's been no effective test except to actually give somebody peanuts and see how they react. But now I think with this new diagnostic test the numbers are certainly going to increase in terms of the children who are being tested for it. This is a blood test. This isn't a test where you actually have to give somebody peanuts and see if they develop a severe reaction. That's obviously scary on a lot of different fronts. This blood test may actually improve the numbers significantly.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, nice to see you. Thanks.

GUPTA: Good to see you. Take care.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com






Aired July 11, 2003 - 08:44   ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: For some 1.5 million Americans, peanut is a four-letter word. Allergy to peanuts is one of the most common in this country. And for the most severely allergic, eating a single peanut could be a fatal mistake.
Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN Center with more news on a potential treatment.

Good morning to you, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

It is a big issue, especially for people or family that have someone with peanut allergies, they know what we're talking about here very significant. As you mentioned already, the numbers, Soledad, 1.5 million people in the United States. Incidentally, that number is probably growing. That's something we're going to talk about here, kills more children than adults, and very significant, more significant in children than adults, and also very small amounts may actually trigger these allergies. Less than two peanuts at a time may, in fact, cause a severe, if not fatal reaction for obvious reasons, and a huge concern. A lot of research, a lot of funding being directed towards the study of peanut allergies. As I mentioned, Soledad, the numbers have probably been increasing over the last several years.

Just yesterday, in fact, a new study -- several new studies coming out about peanut allergies. I want to give you a vignette on each one of these particular studies. Take a look at some of these. First of all, there's a new diagnostic lab test. This is a very important thing. In the past, there's really been no way to tell if someone has peanut allergy, and if so, how significant. Well, that may change. As a result of that lab test, they are finding that 20 percent of young children actually outgrow their allergies.

Soledad, a lot of children who have peanut allergies at birth go through their entire lives not being able to not only eat peanuts, but not eat anything that has peanuts in them. In fact, a fifth of them outgrow them. It's important to know who those children are. Peanuts may worsen allergies and asthma. An important -- all those kids with severe asthma almost always have concurrent food allergies. Also liquid charcoal can block peanut absorption. Not many people obviously keep liquid charcoal around their home. But liquid charcoal has long been used to try and prevent ingestinal food poisoning. It may help with allergies to peanuts, as well. There is a vaccine on the horizon. It only works in animals. So far, several years before humans. But at least that's something that's being developed.

And finally, peanut butter, less allergenic than peanuts. An important point. Apparently, Soledad, it's that roasting of peanuts that actually makes them worse. Somehow, roasting the peanuts somehow makes them worse when they're actually taken. So some important news coming out in one of the prominent journals of allergy -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay, just a quick question for you. It seems like today peanut allergies are more common than maybe in the past 10 years, 15 years before that. Is that accurate, and if so, why?

GUPTA: It is accurate, and I think there's really two reasons. First reason, is that probably they're being reported more. So, in fact, those numbers haven't actually gone up, people are recognizing these peanut allergies more and actually reporting them. Second reason, sort of a little bit more interesting, is that we're finding peanut or peanut oil or some sort of peanut butter is being used in all sorts of different products. It's not just the products you think about, but peanuts are available in all sorts of foods, lotions, things like that. And children at a very young age are starting to become sensitized to the peanut ingredients, you know, through the oils, the lotions or whatsoever, and as a result of that, they may actually develop peanut allergies as they grow older in life.

So it's probably a combination of the two. But I think you're absolutely right, Soledad, there's more peanut allergies today than there probably was 20 years ago.

O'BRIEN: And final question for you, Sanjay, what percentagewise of the number of kids who are being tested for this peanut allergy? A small percentage? Do you expect that to grow?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, in the past there's really been no treatment. There's been no effective test except to actually give somebody peanuts and see how they react. But now I think with this new diagnostic test the numbers are certainly going to increase in terms of the children who are being tested for it. This is a blood test. This isn't a test where you actually have to give somebody peanuts and see if they develop a severe reaction. That's obviously scary on a lot of different fronts. This blood test may actually improve the numbers significantly.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, nice to see you. Thanks.

GUPTA: Good to see you. Take care.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com