Egging on Allergies?

Friends, family, colleagues and regular readers of SRxA’s Word on Health already know about my egg allergy.  What they may not know about is my egg aversion.  Just typing the “e” word makes me queasy.  Thinking about eggs makes me cringe and actually seeing them, especially hard boiled, fills me with revulsion.

So, with some trepidation, I bring you this breaking health story.

According to a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine by giving children with egg allergies increasingly higher doses of the very food they are allergic to researchers found they could eliminate or ease reactions in most of them.

The study conducted at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and four other U.S. institutions treated 40 egg allergic children with escalating doses of eggs – an approach known as oral immunotherapy.

In the 10 month study, 40 children, aged 5 -18, received escalating doses of egg-white powder while 15 received a cornstarch placebo.  35 of the 40 children treated with egg immunotherapy experienced improvement. Five dropped out of the study, four of them due to allergic reactions. Eleven of the 35 patients experienced complete long-term elimination of egg-related allergic reactions. The rest of the children were able to tolerate higher doses of egg with only mild or no symptoms.

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,” says Robert Wood, M.D, director of allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “These children went from having serious allergic reactions after a single bite of an egg-containing cookie to consuming eggs with minimal or no symptoms.”

This is important because it can protect against serious allergic reactions from accidental or incidental exposures and give patients and parents a peace of mind at restaurants, parties and other venues where food control is difficult or impossible.

But while this may be good news for the estimated 3% of U.S. with egg allergies, this blogger is not so sure she’d be a candidate.  The thought of having to eat escalating doses of the dreaded “e” word is more abhorrent to me than the thought of a future filled with quiche and ice cream!

On a more serious note, we’d also like to brings readers some sage advice from allergist David Amrol MD : “Although oral immunotherapy is our best chance for a food allergy cure, it is not ready for mainstream use until protocols are further refined. Patients who are not enrolled in clinical trials must continue to rely on allergen avoidance, patient education, and self-injectable epinephrine.”

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