For the study, the children were first given injections of Xolair. Over the next seven to 10 weeks, they were exposed to incrementally increasing amounts of milk, while continuing treatment with the drug. Then, the medication was stopped but the desensitization -- in the form of drinking about two ounces of milk a day -- continued for another eight weeks.
The researchers noted that all of the children completed the full treatment process, which they attributed to adding an allergy medication to the desensitization regimen. The drug acts as a "protective blanket," Dr. Kari Nadeau, an allergist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford and a study co-author, said in the news release.
"Without this treatment, 10 to 20 percent of people who start oral immunotherapy drop out, in part due to intolerable allergic reactions early in the treatment," he said.
At the end of treatment, nine of the eleven children could consume up to 12 ounces of dairy products a day with little or no difficulty, the study found.
"When you try to go on a diet that is completely free of milk, it is very difficult because many foods have a little bit of milk protein in them," Nadeau noted. "From a practical standpoint, this treatment allowed these patients to increase all types of milk products in their diets: They were able to eat yogurt, cheese, bread, a muffin. One patient in our study said, 'I can finally eat goldfish crackers.'"
Dr. Jonathan Field, director emeritus of the pediatric allergy immunology clinic at New York University School of Medicine/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City, described the findings as both "interesting" and "encouraging."
"The caveat is that so far Xolair hasn't been approved for children under 12," he noted. "But immunologically, it makes sense. And this method may promote a safer food desensitization process, which can sometimes entail risk. So anything that can make it a safer process would be quite we
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