Immunotherapy Treatment In Children With Egg Allergies

Food allergies in children can be scary and parents will do anything to prevent life-threatening reactions. About 4% to 6% of children in the United States have food allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Recent studies, also known as immunotherapy, have been conducted to help children with food allergies and overcome the allergies by developing a tolerance for them. In these studies the scientists give an allergic child extremely small quantities of the allergen and increase the dosage over time and have successful reversed allergies.

A new study just published on July 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine reports success of an immunotherapy trail on eggs with children. This study is important because eggs can be hidden in food products and a small bite can trigger a severe allergic reaction in some children.

In this study, researchers examined 55 children who were allergic to eggs. Forty of them received immunotherapy (controlled doses of egg white powder) and 15 of them received a placebo treatment of cornstarch for comparison. By 22 months of treatment, 75% of children who received the immunotherapy were considered "desensitized" to eggs. Researchers found that 10 children who had undergone the immunotherapy were eating eggs on their own a year after the treatment ended, without symptoms. This was out of an initial group of 30 who took the treatment and could pass a food challenge (eating egg without incident) after 22 months of therapy.

The treatment did not work for 15% and they dropped out of the trial – mostly because of allergic reactions, according to the study.

The immunotherapy approach has already been tried with peanuts and milk in small trials.

If you have a child with an egg allergy, don't try this yourself. This procedure was done in a medical setting under tightly controlled conditions. To learn more about joining a study on immunotherapy go to clinicaltrials.gov.


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