DURHAM, N.C. -- Children who were allergic to eggs were able to essentially overcome their allergy by gradually consuming increased quantities of eggs over time, researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have found in a small pilot study.
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 Dukes Division of Allergy and Immunology and a senior member of the research team. Egg allergies cause a significant decrease in quality of life for many people, so this study is exciting in that it brings us a step closer to being able to offer a meaningful therapy for these people.
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children in the United States, Burks said. Just how many children are allergic to eggs is unclear, but the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that 6 percent to 8 percent of children have some type of food allergy. Most children outgrow egg allergy by age 5, but some people remain allergic for a lifetime.
The findings are reported in an advance online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and will appear in the journals January 2007 print edition.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the two universities.
The study is the first in a series of studies on food allergy desensitization that are under way at Duke and the University of Arkansas. The goal, Burks said, is to offer food allergy sufferers protection from accidental ingestion of items that provoke reactions and, eventually, to induce complete or near-complete tolerance to those items.
Burks and his colleagues modeled the study on a commonly used method for treating seasonal allergy sufferers to alleviate sy
Contact: Lauren Shaftel
Duke University Medical Center