By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review
It seems most people I know these days have some kind of food allergy. I myself was lactose intolerant as a child. One of my friends was forced to go gluten- and diary-free in the midst of an auto immune disorder. And now a dear friend of mine has had to eliminate almost everything she loves from her diet as her body seems to be rejecting everything she feeds it.
The more prevalent food allergies become, the more people grow curious about how these sensitivities have developed and why they’re now such a common occurrence in our society.
Recently we reported on a study that found food allergies more prevalent in children living in urban areas as opposed to those living in rural areas. And while researchers weren’t certain as to why this is, they speculated it was urban children’s limited exposure to allergens and/or pollutants.
Whatever the cause may be, scientists – and parents alike – are frantically searching for a treatment for these food allergies that can sometimes sometimes spark life-threatening reactions. And according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers may be gaining some ground in this area.
According to a recent article from CNN, researchers have had success with a new treatment technique called immunotherapy, which is the idea of giving an allergic child an extremely small amount of the allergen and increase the dosage over time. Doing so will hopefully help build the child’s resistance to the allergy, which will in turn decrease in severity or diminish entirely.
Immunotherapy has only been tested in small trials using peanuts and milk. In one such study researchers examined 55 children who were allergic to eggs, 40 of whom received immunotherapy and 15 received a placebo treatment. Twenty-two months later 75 percent of the children who received immunotherapy were considered desensitized to eggs, which gave researchers great hope that they were coming upon at least a lead in the cure for food allergies.
Until immunotherapy undergoes further testing, researchers are careful to caution people not to try this on their own as the results could be potentially dangerous. But if trials continue to prove successful, a treatment could be widely available within five to 10 years.