When you have an egg allergy, the last remedy you'd think of is eating eggs. However, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that gradual exposure to the very item you’re allergic to may lead to you losing the allergy altogether! This kind of treatment is called oral immunotherapy.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Medical Center studied 55 children aged five to 11—all of whom were allergic to eggs—and divided them into two. Of the 55, 40 were subjected to oral immunotherapy and were fed increasing doses of egg-white powder. The 15 left were simply given cornstarch and served as a placebo group.
After 10 months (with five and two drop outs from the oral immunotherapy group and the placebo group respectively), the children were asked to eat 5 g of egg protein, which is roughly half the size of a regular egg. Results revealed improvement in the group that was given egg-white powder. Of the 35 left, 22 were relatively unscathed while 14 of them showed no allergic reaction at all. The placebo group failed the test.
After 22 more months, researchers gave the oral immunotherapy children another challenge. This time, they would have to take 10 g of egg protein or one large egg. After reviewing the results, researchers found that 30 out of 35 passed the inspection. Right after this experiment, those who passed went four to six weeks without consuming anything egg-related. Afterward, they were tested again. This time, only 11 made it without a hint of their allergy. A year later, their allergy had yet to return.
But don't go out and start scarfing down everything you're allergic to! Researchers say that everything is preliminary. Readers are not advised to try the same thing at home, especially without a doctor present. Until they get more proof, it’s best to practice every precaution when it comes to your allergy.
(Photo by laura k via Flickr Creative Commons)