Three million people in America have some sort of nut allergy, mostly peanuts. A bad reaction, especially in a child with asthma can send a child into a tailspin of wheezing, increased heart rate, and even fainting.
Now, researchers are working on a patch worn on the body, not to protect children, but to retrain their body's allergic response.
9-year-old Josh Mandlebaum is one of those kids so allergic to peanuts that it consumes him, even while playing tennis.
"I was scared that if I shook someone else's hand that I could have a reaction," explains Josh.
Josh is now one of more than 220 kids trying an experimental patch that introduces peanut protein straight into the skin.
University Hospitals Allergist Dr. Sam Friedlander explains how the patch works.
"Well the idea is that the peanut patch is going to train the immune system so that is not as allergic to the peanuts," says Dr. Friedlander about the Viaskin patch. "So basically we're trying to get the body to revert to a more normal non-allergic state."
The goal is to gradually familiarize the skin cells to peanuts. So far, the results are promising, with no serious side effects other than some slight discomfort.
The study found that the patch allowed participants to have a higher tolerance for nuts. 50 percent of patients could eat up to four peanuts by the end of the year.
"So what that means is that if they accidentally ingested a small amount of peanuts, or for instance if they came into contact with peanuts at a restaurant, they would be okay," says Dr. Friedlander.