Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is common in children and may lead to severe systemic reactions. Avoidance of the ingestion of cow milk is the only effective approach, but this does not exclude the inadvertent or accidental ingestion, or the assumption of milk hidden in other foods. As no pharmacological treatment is available, specific desensitization has been considered an attractive strategy.
In the last years, several trials of oral desensitization to cow milk, with different protocols, were published. Overall the results were favourable and demonstrated the achievement of a full tolerance in a high percentage of children. Mild side effects that can be easily managed by slowing the desensitization were reported frequently. The discontinuation of the procedure was necessary in less than 20% of children, on average, due to severe side effects.
Oral immunotherapy (oral desensitization) seems to be a promising treatment strategy for cow milk allergy in children that can be applied also to other foods such as eggs or peanuts.
aAllergy and Respiratory Diseases, DIMI, University of Genoa
bPediatric National Healthcare System, Turin
cDepartment of Pediatrics, Allergy Unit, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
Correspondence to Giovanni Passalacqua, MD, Allergy and Respiratory Diseases, University of Genoa, Pad.Maragliano, L.go R.Benzi 10, 16132 Genoa, Italy. Tel: +39 01 0353 8933; fax: +39 01 0353 8904; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org