A new food allergy treatment could allow children to safely consume foods that once would have been life-threatening, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are hoping.
The scientists are testing whether "sublingual therapy," in which tiny amounts of the allergenic substance--such as milk--are placed under the patient's tongue, could desensitize the body enough to allow it to move on to "oral immunotherapy," in which the patient swallows small amounts of the substance. In experiments, kids who did sublingual therapy before oral immunotherapy had better results.
CNN.com reports, however, that the treatment plan needs to be carefully honed to minimize the chances of triggering serious allergic reactions in children:
The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.
This is particularly important, because about 20% of the kids that [Dr. Robert] Wood [of Johns Hopkins] and colleagues work with have significant reactions during the treatment that make the therapy unfeasible, Wood said.
Some participants have shown they can safely eat milk products up to a year after stopping the therapies, Wood said. But only one-third have longterm protection. Others need regular exposure to milk in order to maintain protection against allergic reactions.
"With milk that's not too hard," Wood says, because one could "eat pizza a couple of times a week."
Image: Boy drinking milk, via Shutterstock.