Children allergic to eggs can be cured by giving them increasingly higher doses of egg protein, research has shown.
Of 40 treated children, 35 experienced improvement and 11 were said to be completely free of their allergy after two years.
The approach, known as oral immunotherapy, is designed to “teach” the immune system to tolerate foods that trigger an allergic reaction.
In the study, children received escalating doses of egg white powder over an initial period of 10 months.
Treatment was continued for those who passed the first hurdle and were able to eat five grams of egg protein with no ill effects.
Eventually the food challenge was increased to 10 grams - the equivalent of a whole large egg.
After 22 months, children who passed this test had an egg-free “abstinence” period of four to six weeks.
Eleven children were still able to consume eggs without any symptoms after the abstinence period, qualifying them as cured.
Study leader Dr Robert Wood, from Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre in Maryland, US, said: “More than a quarter of the children in our study lost their egg allergies altogether, but we also saw dramatic improvements in those who didn’t, which in and of itself is an important therapeutic achievement.”
- Burks AW, et al. Oral Immunotherapy for Treatment of Egg Allergy in Children. New England Journal of Medicine 2012; Advance online publication