"Participants who took a daily dose of egg product over the two-year study period were able to build up their bodies' resistance to the point where most of them could eat two scrambled eggs without a reaction," said A. Wesley Burks, M.D., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Duke University Medical Center. Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children in the United States, Burks said.
Burks and his colleagues modelled the study on a commonly used method for treating seasonal allergy sufferers to alleviate symptoms. In this approach, called immunotherapy, physicians give patients shots containing small amounts of the troublesome allergen in an effort to build their tolerance to it. The seven subjects in the study, who ranged from 1 to 7 years of age, had a history of allergic reactions.
Instead of receiving shots, as seasonal allergy sufferers do, the subjects were given small doses of powdered egg orally, mixed in food. "We started the subjects with a very small concentration of egg product - the equivalent of less than one-thousandth of an egg - and then we increased the dose every 30 minutes for eight hours in order to determine the highest dose that each subject could tolerate," Burks said.
The subjects consumed the first doses in the study clinic. The researchers then gave the children's parents a supply of egg product, allocated into the tolerated doses, which the subjects consumed daily at home, mixed with other foods. The children returned to the clinic every two weeks. At each visit, the researchers increased the subjects' dosages until they reached the equivalent of one-tenth of an egg, Burks said. The children then continued to take this "maintenance dose" daily for the duration of the study.
Over time, the children showed both an increase in tolerance to eggs and a decrease in the severity of their allergic reactions, Burks said. At the end of the study period, most of the children could tolerate two scrambled eggs with no adverse reactions.
MEDICA.de; Source: Duke University School of Medicine