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New Ways to Fight Nut, Milk Allergies

Studies Show Peanut-Rich Diets During Pregnancy and Injection-Free Milk Immunizations May Help

Milk Allergies Studied

Other researchers report that oral immunotherapy also appears to be safe and effective for treating cow's milk allergy in kids.

The study, done at Johns Hopkins, involved 11 young children and teens, aged 6 to 17, with proven milk allergies. They were randomly assigned to receive either escalating doses of milk protein in the form of powder mixed with water, or a placebo drink.

Once they reached a daily dose of 500 milligrams, about the equivalent of two cups of milk, they stayed on that dose for three to four months.

At the end of the study, the researchers gave the kids the 8,140-milligram challenge. Before the treatment, all 11 kids exhibited symptoms after ingesting 40 milligrams of milk protein. In contrast, one participant who finished the course of oral immunotherapy tolerated the entire 8,140 milligrams, the study showed.

"The results are very promising," says Burke, who also worked on this study. "The subset that received the milk powder could tolerate much more milk before they had a reaction by the end of the study."

Waiting Allergies Out

If all else fails, maybe parents can just wait their kids' allergies out. Japanese researchers report that more than 80% of kids with egg, milk, or wheat allergies became tolerant to these foods by their teenage years.

Researchers at the Shiga Medical Center for Children in Moriyama, Shiga, surveyed the parents of schoolchildren who had been diagnosed with allergies to egg, milk, or wheat before age 1.

The percentage of kids with allergies to those three items dropped over time -- from 5.4% at age 7 to 3% at age 15, the study showed.

Not all the news was good: By age 15, these children were 10 times more likely to avoid other foods, most notably buckwheat, shellfish, and fruits, than teens who never had food allergies.

Moreover, the kids who had early food allergies had higher rates of asthma and hay fever.

Burke says that researchers don't really know why kids can outgrow allergies.

What is clear is that children with food allergies should be regularly re-evaluated, he says.

And while the new research is exciting, people with food allergies -- or their parents, in the case of young children -- should stand by the tried and true, the experts say. Avoid foods you're allergic to. And carry an auto-injector such as EpiPen or Twinject -- a syringe filled with epinephrine and encased in a self-injecting device that can be used anywhere, anytime, they say.

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