A new treatment is emerging for the treatment--even reversal--of childhood food allergies; giving kids small amounts of problem foods to train their immune systems to accept that the foods are not dangerous. The Associated Press reports on the latest example of this approach, which has been shown to reverse egg allergies in children:
In the best test of this yet, about a dozen kids were able to overcome allergies to eggs, one of the most ubiquitous foods, lurking in everything from pasta and veggie burgers to mayonnaise and even marshmallows. Some of the same doctors used a similar approach on several kids with peanut allergies a few years ago.
Don't try this yourself, though. It takes special products, a year or more and close supervision because severe reactions remain a risk, say doctors involved in the study, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
''This experimental therapy can safely be done only by properly trained physicians,'' says a statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal agency that sponsored the study.
It didn't work for everyone, and some dropped out of the study because of allergic reactions. But the results ''really do show there is promise for future treatment'' and should be tested now in a wider group of kids, said the study's leader, Dr. A. Wesley Burks, pediatrics chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
More than 2 percent of young children have egg allergies, suffering wheezing and tight throats or even life-threatening reactions if they eat any egg, Burks said. Many will outgrow this by age 4 or 5, and more will by the time they are teens, but 10 to 20 percent never do.
Image: Eggs, via Shutterstock.