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Early Exposure to Peanuts Helps Prevent Allergies in Kids



This Feb. 20, 2015, photo shows an arrangement of peanuts in New York. For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now, a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

This Feb. 20, 2015, photo shows an arrangement of peanuts in New York. For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now, a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)


For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Exposing infants like these to peanuts before age 1 actually helped prevent a peanut allergy, lowering that risk by as much as 81 percent, doctors found. Instead of provoking an allergy, early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the results “without precedent” and said in a statement that they “have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention.”

His agency helped fund the study, the largest and most rigorous test of this concept. Results were published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at an American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference in Houston.

A big warning, though: The babies in the study were checked to make sure they didn’t already have a peanut allergy before they were fed foods that included peanuts, so parents of babies thought to be at risk for an allergy should not try this on their own.

“Before you even start any kind of introduction these children need to be skin-tested” to prevent life-threatening reactions, said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, an allergy specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Also, small children can choke on whole peanuts, so smooth peanut butter or other peanut-based foods are safer, said Gruchalla, who wrote a commentary on the study in the journal.

The main finding — that early exposure to a problem food may keep it from becoming a long-term problem — should change food guidelines quickly, she predicted.

“Isn’t it wild? It’s counterintuitive in certain ways and in other ways it’s not,” she said.

Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade and now affect more than 2 percent of kids in the United States and growing numbers of them in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Peanuts are the leading cause of food allergy-related severe reactions and deaths. Unlike many other allergies, this one is not outgrown with age.

Food allergies often are inherited, but research suggests they also can develop after birth and that age of exposure may affect whether they do.

Researchers at King’s College London started this study after noticing far higher rates of peanut allergies among Jewish children in London who were not given peanut-based foods in infancy compared to others in Israel who were.

The study involved more than 600 children ages 4 months to 11 months old in England. All were thought to be at risk for peanut allergy because they were allergic to eggs or had eczema, a skin condition that’s a frequent allergy symptom.

All had been given skin-prick tests to make sure they were not already allergic to peanuts. They were put into two groups — 530 who did not show signs of peanut allergy and 98 others with mild-to-moderate reactions, suggesting an allergy might be developing.

Half of each group was assigned to avoid peanuts and the other half was told to consume them each week, usually as peanut butter or a snack called Bamba, a peanut-flavored puff.

The results at 5 years of age:

—Among children with no sign of allergy on the skin test: Only 2 percent of peanut eaters developed a peanut allergy versus 14 percent of abstainers.

—Among children with some reaction to peanuts on the skin test: Only 11 percent of peanut eaters developed an allergy versus 35 percent of abstainers.

Hospitalizations and serious reactions were about the same in all groups.

Questions remain: How much peanut protein do infants need to consume, how often and for how long, to avoid allergy? If a child stops eating peanuts for a while, will an allergy develop? Would the same approach work for other foods such as milk, eggs and tree nuts?

“These questions must be addressed, but we believe that because the results of this trial are so compelling, and the problem of the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy so alarming, new guidelines should be forthcoming very soon,” Gruchalla and Dr. Hugh Sampson of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York write in the medical journal.

American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines used to recommend against giving children foods with peanuts before age 3, but that advice was dropped in 2008 because there was no evidence it was preventing allergies. Now, most parents introduce peanut-based foods as is appropriate for the child’s age, like other solid foods.

Gruchalla thinks that babies with some signs of a peanut allergy risk, such as parents who are allergic, should have a skin test between 4 and 8 months of age. If it’s negative, they should be started on peanut products as the babies in this study were. If they show some sensitivity to peanuts, a “food challenge” monitored by a doctor experienced at this should be tried.

For children who already have peanut allergies, researchers have been experimenting with small regular amounts of exposure to try to train them to tolerate those foods. But these are still experimental and must be done with the help of a doctor.





Marilynn Marchione can be followed at

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Serving low-income women with cancer



Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Logo courtesy Organization's website

 In California, over 1.1 million women have been diagnosed with cancer. About one out of three, nearly 400,000, are low-income and cannot afford care. Over the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has been supplementing thousands of low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Services are provided free of charge.

Studies show that integrative care, including acupuncture, herbs, massage, guided imagery, movement, and nutritional therapies, is vital for an improved quality of life and optimal recovery from cancer and its treatment.

Cancer survivor Claudia C. says, “When I came to CMC…my physical health and emotional well-being were seriously compromised. I was going down, isolated and lost. It felt as if I belonged to a different, less valuable subspecies, more like a human waste…. I find myself beyond words to express my gratitude for the extent that CMC has altered and enhanced the life of my family and me. Thank you, Charlotte Maxwell for making such a real, direct and profound difference in our lives.”

 When almost 4,200 normally scheduled in-person appointments were suspended during the pandemic, CMC continued to provide a virtual lifeline, serving women by offering over 400 group wellness sessions online to aid them in stress management, physical therapy and preventing isolation.

CMC’s Medical Director Dr. Mary Lynn Morales, DAIM, says, “We are looking forward to reopening our clinic in October, as well as building on the success of our online services. The restored in-clinic appointments will reflect COVID-19 prevention protocols and allow us to treat 250 current and new clients who are anxious to resume or start 1-on-1 services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Cancer survivor Jessica Bates says, “I’ve come to understand it was the doctors who took the cancer out of my body and cured me, but it was all of the practitioners at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic that have helped me to heal.”

Integrating complementary therapies in the cancer treatment and recovery process has been shown to help reduce pain, heal the immune system, reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma, and build resiliency.

“Low-income women may not be aware of the range and benefits of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment, much less be able to afford it,” says Melbra Watts, CMC’s Executive Director. “They also deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest attainable health during their cancer journey.”

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, CWC is hosting “An Evening of Gratitude for CMC” virtual event from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

Donations are needed, appreciated and encouraged.  For ticket, donation and sponsorship information, contact Melbra Watts at (510) 601-7660 Ext 224, or

The awards show and fundraiser, is open to the public and will honor the organization’s co-founders, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, and Gabriella Heinsheimer, MD, former medical director of CMC. It will celebrate the contributions of long-time volunteers and partners. Heartfelt patient testimonials will also be shared.

The emcee for the event is Janice Edwards, award-winning TV talk show host and executive producer of “Janice Edwards’ TV: Bay Area Vista.”

Proceeds from this event will help rebuild and expand vital integrative care services, both in-clinic and via telehealth, to low-income women impacted by cancer and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Former High School Administrator Files Federal “Whistleblower” Lawsuit Against OUSD

Cleveland McKinney alleges he lost his job for complaining about “unsafe and discriminatory conditions” at McClymonds High



Cleveland McKinney

Cleveland McKinney, a former assistant principal at McClymonds High School in West Oakland, has filed a lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District, alleging that he was demoted and terminated for exercising his freedom of speech to complain about “unsafe and discriminatory school conditions, including tainted water, disproportionate suspensions of Black children, staff assaulting students, misappropriation of funds (and) sexual harassment of female students.”

“I’m a whistleblower,” said McKinney in an interview with the Oakland Post. “They forced me out once I began to speak up about a lot of the injustices that were going on and how they mistreated the Black community (in West Oakland) in the same way.” 

Reached by the Post, the district said it does not comment on pending litigation. 

During the time he was facing threats of demotion and loss of his position, several hundred members of the McClymonds community attended a school board meeting to protest the retaliation against him.

McKinney’s complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December 2020 by Sonya Z. Mehta of Oakland civil rights law firm Siegel, Yee, Brunner and Mehta. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of money including damages for lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering. 

Depositions began in the past few weeks for the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in August 2022. In addition to the district, the complaint names McKinney’s former bosses, OUSD Executive Director of High School Instruction Vanessa Sifuentes and former McClymonds Principal Jarod Scott as defendants.

Prior to facing retaliation and being terminated by OUSD, McKinney had a spotless record as a teacher and school administrator since about 1996, according to the lawsuit.

McKinney was originally hired by OUSD in 2014 to help implement a 2012 Office of Civil Rights complaint against the district for “discriminatory discipline, including unwarranted suspensions, against African American students.”

State statistics indicate that in 2020-2021 McClymonds had 357 students, of whom 78% were Black. 

In his position at OUSD, McKinney worked with the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education to help create new discipline policies and train teachers how to discipline students. 

“McClymonds appointed McKinney the on-site administrator with school-wide responsibility for discipline as per the requirements of the 2012 agreement,” according to the lawsuit. 

The relationship between McKinney and his bosses began to deteriorate by Aug. 22, 2016, when he reported that water in McClymonds locker room looked “dirty and orange.”

“(He) requested the water be tested because of his reasonable belief that the water was dangerous and injurious to students,” the lawsuit said.

McKinney and others, including former McClymonds basketball coach Ben Tapscott, pushed for the district to conduct testing of all parts of the school, while students and teachers still used the water.

Officials told school staff there was nothing wrong with the water. “They advised letting the water run for five minutes, even for the cooking water in the kitchen,” though the water was still dirty after letting it run, the complaint said. 

An official stated she would not spend $100,000 to fix corroded pipes and that filters would be sufficient, the complaint said.

McKinney also met regularly with his bosses about disproportionate discipline in violation of the 2012 Office of Civil Rights agreement.

“He complained about teachers who were suspending Black students for not having pencils, asking to use the bathroom, talking, or chewing gum – and teachers who needlessly berated Black students.”

He also complained about a staff member who hit students, including punching “a girl in the throat in a meeting with many witnesses.” The administration said there was no merit to the complaint. 

McKinney also complained about mismanagement of a $50,000 donation for student activities that was redirected to administrator salaries, a Spanish teacher who knew no Spanish, an extreme mice infestation and an afterschool program that falsely claimed it was providing services to students. 

He pushed administrators to refurbish the locker room. The school’s entire football team, which was African American, “had to strip down and change on the football field and leave their equipment on the field due to the abysmal condition of the locker room. Students were forced to strip in front of adults,” the complaint said. 

In February 2018, Executive Director Sifuentes told McKinney, “Why are you so concerned about helping these people and everyone? Why don’t you just go along with what we are doing? What do you gain from this?”

In July 2018, McKinney’s bosses at the school moved his office to a space in the basement that was “moldy with a stale stench, (and) the carpet was filthy,” the complaint said.

In that room, he immediately began coughing and wheezing from allergies and asthma. 

McKinney met with OUSD Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell in September 2018 and December 2018 about his complaints, but she took no action, according to the lawsuit.

In August 2019, McKinney was demoted, removing him from his certificated position as an assistant principal and reclassified to a classified position as a program manager. On March 17, 2020, he was told that he did not have a job for the coming year and that he was terminated due to budget cuts. 

“I didn’t have any due process,” McKinney said. “When you speak up for the students and the community, it puts a target on your back, and they come after you.”


The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Continuing the Healing Journey: 30th Anniversary Celebration for Charlotte Maxwell Clinic

Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Marks 30th Anniversary
In Virtual Event, Thursday, October 28th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm



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