By Gabe Noble
Giovanni Cipriano was an ordinary 14-year-old high school freshman who had a passion for baseball and had just made the honor roll. One quiet night, as he snacked on trail mix and watched a movie with his mother, his throat began to incessantly itch. Unbeknown to Giovanni and his mother, there were peanuts in the mix, which he had been allergic to since he was 18 months old. His mother gave him a double dose of Benadryl and frantically rushed to the hospital.
"I took his hand and I said, 'Don’t worry, we’re here.' And when I grabbed his hand, he was cold and his body was blue," Giovanni’s mother, Georgina told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga from her home in Long Island, NY. The anaphylactic reaction led to a coma, and he died several weeks later.
Giovanni was one of the 6 million children in the United States who suffer from food allergies, an alarming number that has nearly tripled in the past two decades. Dr. Martin Blaser, a microbiologist and professor at New York University, is working tirelessly on groundbreaking research into this dramatic spike in food allergies. His hypothesis is that exposure to antibiotics early in life is diminishing positive gut bacteria and thus weakening children's immune systems, making them more susceptible to allergies. Blaser warns parents: "Antibiotics are not free, they do have a cost. And it is not just monetary but in the development of the immunity in children."
Blaser’s theory has been tested on young mice and while his research is still a work in progress, the results so far are positive and he hopes could lead to a cure for food allergies.
Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the peanut allergy in mice had been eliminated by Dr. Blaser's experiment. The doctor clarified by saying while that is the goal of his work "We have no experiment that shows that we can turn around the immunological findings that we have observed.”