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Allergies Health Center

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'Egg Therapy' May Help Allergic Kids

Experimental Treatment Could Desensitize Children With Food Allergies

1 in 4 Kids Passed Egg Challenge continued...

Three oral food challenges were conducted at 10 months, 22 months, and 24 months, with children exposed to larger doses of egg white powder. As part of the 24-month challenge, participants were also given one real egg to eat.

After 10 months, just over half (55%) of the children treated with the egg therapy passed the challenge, while none of those in the placebo group did.

At 22 months, 75% of the children in the egg treatment group passed the food challenge. Those that passed the 22-month challenge stopped egg therapy and avoided eating anything with egg for four to six weeks.

But most lost the tolerance they had achieved after stopping the daily egg exposures, suggesting that continuing the therapy for a longer period of time is important for maintaining tolerance.

Case in point: At 24 months, only 28% of the remaining egg therapy group passed the challenge -- but, these children were all eating eggs without problems at 30 and 36 months.

Some Could Not Tolerate Treatment

Most children with food allergies show symptoms by age 3, but many outgrow these allergies by the time they reach school age.

For those who don't, food allergies can persist into early adulthood and may even last a lifetime.

Researcher A. Wesley Burks, who chairs the Department of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, tells WebMD that an important goal of future research is learning how to identify who will and will not outgrow food allergies early on and who will benefit from oral immunotherapy.

He adds that the fact that four of the children in the study had to drop out because of allergic reactions suggests that the therapy will not work for everyone.

"I think there is probably a small percentage of kids who will not tolerate a treatment like this, and we need to learn how to identify them early on," he says. "But for kids who do respond, this treatment can be life altering."

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