Medical Notes this week…

Millions of American kids are allergic to peanuts… and for some, being exposed to peanuts can be fatal. But a study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that gradually ramping up exposure to tiny amounts of peanut protein every day for a year can make it safer. At the start of the study, none of the nearly 500 four-to-17 year old subjects could tolerate eating even one-tenth of a peanut. After a year of treatment, two-thirds of them could eat at least two whole peanuts… so an accidental exposure was no longer life threatening.

More American children are living in three-generation households than ever before. A study in the journal Demography shows that nearly 10 percent of children, or about seven million kids, are living with both a parent and grandparent. That’s nearly double the figures from roughly 20 years ago. Multi-generational homes are more common among the economically disadvantaged… but researchers say the fastest growing group now includes moms who are older, wealthier, more educated. And single.

If you thought volunteering to help out a co-worker is a good thing… think again. A study in The Journal of Applied Psychology shows that it’s better to wait to be asked before you help. Scientists say helpers who jump in without being asked often don’t have a good handle on what they’re doing, so they don’t get much gratitude for it… and the person being helped starts feeling incompetent. Better to stick to your own business, researchers say… until you’re asked.

And finally… if you can’t get enough coffee, it may be all in your genes. A study in the journal Scientific Reports finds that people who are genetic super-tasters for the bitter taste of caffeine are 20 percent more likely than average to drink at least four cups of coffee per day.

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