In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of milk immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Duke University all 12 children receiving milk powder daily for four months significantly increased their tolerance of milk (from no more than 40 milligrams to at least 2,540 milligrams) while the seven children receiving a placebo powder showed no improvement.
Dr. Robert Wood, director of Allergy and Immunology at Hopkins Children's said that the findings suggest that oral immunotherapy gradually retrains the immune system to completely disregard or to better tolerate the allergens in milk that previously caused allergic reactions and that oral immunotherapy may be the closest thing yet to a true treatment for food allergy.
Children regularly consuming milk powder had more milk antibodies in their blood, and were better able to tolerate milk than those on the placebo. As a result, the researchers recommended that these children continue consuming milk daily to maintain and further build their resistance.
The researchers aren't sure what would happen if the children stopped consuming milk regularly as the tolerance may lost once the immune system is no longer exposed to the allergen daily.
However, Dr Wood warned that further research is necessary, so parents and care givers should absolutely not try oral immunotherapy without medical supervision.
Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Oct 28
First published December 2008
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