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Researchers have success in treating milk allergies

Forgoing pizza, ice cream and other dairy products can be a tough adjustment for kids with milk allergies. But researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and Duke University say they may be able to help them build a tolerance.

A small study over two years found that giving patients higher doses of milk protein in powder form outperformed lower-dose therapy, which involved a few drops of liquid milk extract under the tongue.

Half of the 30 patients age 6 to 17 were able to consume 8 grams of milk protein, which is the equivalent of 8 ounces of liquid milk, without any allergic reaction at the end of the trial.

The results were published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The researchers had shown in the past that both approaches eased allergic symptoms but this was the first head-to-head comparison. There were three groups: one group who took light drops of milk under the tongue and two groups who got different doses of milk powder. The highest dose appeared the most effective.

“It is encouraging to know that children who in the past might have suffered violent reactions to microscopic amounts of milk now have no reactions or only mild reactions to a much higher dose and that their quality of life can improve dramatically,” said lead investigator Dr. Corinne Keet, a pediatric allergist at Hopkins Children’s Center, in a statement.

The effects wore off in the kids who did not continue to drink milk daily, showing the need for continued consumption. The researchers said more studies are needed, and they stressed that such experimenting shouldn’t be tried at home without close medical supervision.

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