My cousin Bradley, age 11, has an egg allergy and gets covered in hives. He has to be careful around eggs and egg-based products.
“The nutrition labels are always thoroughly checked to make there is no problem,” says Jamie Stewart, Bradley’s mother. “We are cautious when ordering from restaurants.”
Some people have wondered if there is a cure for this. The cure may lie in the problem: eggs! Scientists have discovered that the very source of the problem can work in reverse, fixing the problem. The question becomes: how do you fight the problem WITH the problem?
Eggs are revered around the world as a healthy source of protein and are eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even as a snack. However, about 0.2% of Americans, which is about 600,000, have an allergic reaction to this food product, according to American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.
An allergy can be bad news. An allergic person’s reaction can include skin rashes, hives, nasal inflammation, vomiting, and other digestive issues, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Scientists have found that some children who were fed slightly increasing amounts of egg per day may be able to overcome their allergy. According to the scientists for the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (COFAR), who come from different sites in the U.S.—Johns Hopkins University, National Jewish Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. COFAR reported their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, writing that the curing process doesn’t happen overnight. It was a slow and steady process, taking almost two years to complete.
Still, if the process works, this may lead to these children being able to eat food without worry of a hidden danger, as eggs are found in many foods, such as salad dressings, baked goods, and meat-based dishes, and even in some vaccines, such as influenza, rabies, and yellow fever, according to American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology . The reason egg allergies occur in people because they are allergic to the proteins in eggs, although some are allergic to just the proteins in egg yolks, according to Kid's Health
A food allergy occurs when the body’s natural defenses become “confused” and wrongly interpret some food as dangerous. In response, the immune system kicks in.
This new therapy helps the body learn how to deal with the egg without kicking into gear. However, as with any study, this process didn’t work for everyone. Forty kids aged 5 to 11-years-old participated in the 10-month study. After 22 months, 30 of the 40 kids were able to safely to eat eggs. Five still had a reaction, and five had a serious reaction before the end, and were omitted. At the end of the study, none of the children who received the placebo passed.
“For some kids, this isn’t the right therapy,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, M.D., Chairman and Chief Physician of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School Of Medicine. He is a pediatric immunologist, someone who helps children with allergies or other immune system – related problems. Some other researchers have attempted to try this with peanuts and milk. Burks says that, in general, about one in ten kids have to drop out due to a serious reaction early on. How to know which children will work with this treatment is unknown at this time. This is not recommended to try at home until it is FDA approved and under supervision of a doctor, say the study researchers.
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This treatment isn’t exactly permanent either. The 30 kids who positively responded were tested again. This time, only 10 responded positively. “This study does offer hope that in the next few years a treatment could be developed,” said Burks, “but we’re not there yet.” Andruw Stewart
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