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Allergy Drug May Speed Up Kids' Ability to Tolerate Milk
Date:3/21/2011

MONDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Kids who are allergic to milk may be able to quickly develop tolerance by coupling the allergy medication Xolair with a gradual increase in their exposure to milk, known as sensitization, a new study suggests.

An estimated 3 million children in the United States are allergic to some kind of food. Milk allergy is the most common food allergy among children, affecting about 2.5 percent of those younger than 3.

Treatment based on sensitization alone -- exposing children to small but progressively greater amounts of the food substance to which they're allergic -- is often successful. But it's usually a slow process that runs the risk of provoking allergic reactions.

Seeking a faster and safer method, the research team tested a dual approach -- sensitization along with Xolair (omalizumab), a drug that blocks the action of IgE, a natural substance in the body that causes allergic reactions -- in a small group of children. Their findings were to be presented Monday in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.

Treating milk allergies "could change a child's lifestyle for the better," Dr. Dale Umetsu, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston and a co-author of the study, said in a news release from the Stanford University School of Medicine, which also participated in the research. "These children had significant milk allergy, and were unlikely to outgrow it without some type of treatment."

"While we recognize that larger trials are necessary, these results are very promising and suggest that a rapid and safe method of food desensitization might be available for patients in the near future," Umetsu
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