FoodFacts.com is very sensitive to members of our community experiencing the effects of food allergies. We know – on the lower end of the scale – how frustrating it can be to not be able to eat the simple foods others are able to enjoy. And on the higher end of that same scale, the very real danger that exists from being exposed to even minor amounts of the allergen. It’s a difficult situation. And folks are constantly bombarding allergy sufferers and their family members with non-medical, unproven advice.
Especially when those well-meaning people are suggesting that you expose yourself or your allergic loved one to the very substance that provokes the allergy in the first place.
But there is new research emerging that is suggesting that those annoying suggestions may actually carry some amount of truthfulness. Treating food allergies through oral immunotherapy might actually improve tolerance to the specific food allergen and decrease the severity of the allergic reaction. It does sound somewhat crazy and scary, especially if the allergy sufferer is a child.
But that’s exactly the group that this study explored. 55 children, between the ages of five and eleven, who had mild to moderate allergies to eggs were the focus. They were each exposed to either egg-white powder or a cornstarch placebo mixed into their daily diets. The amounts of egg white or placebo were continually increased each day over a three years. After about 10 months, over half of the children were able to tolerate a little more than half an egg’s worth of egg-white powder with no allergic reactions. After 22 months, three-quarters of the children consuming the egg-white powder could now ingest up to 10 grams (about a whole egg). At the conclusion of the study 11 of the children were considered to be allergy free and were capable of eating eggs whenever they wanted to without experiencing any reactions.
It is unclear from the results of this study whether or not the oral immunotherapy was the sole cause of the improvements noted in food allergies. Food allergies in children are often outgrown completely or can improve over time, with reactions decreasing in frequency and severity. It’s also of the utmost importance to note that severely allergic children were not studied during this research.
While proving the efficacy of oral immunotherapy for people with food allergies would mean tremendously positive lifestyle changes for the food allergic among us, the concept is still somewhat frightening and dangerous. While FoodFacts.com hopes to see more research and hear agreement amongst doctors that there will be oral immunotherapy programs prescribed under strict physician’s supervision, we’re still in favor of food avoidance and diet adjustment.
You can read more here: http://www.medpagetoday.com/allergyimmunology/allergy/33816