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Oral desensitization for milk allergy in children: state of the art

Pajno, Giovanni B.

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: December 2011 - Volume 11 - Issue 6 - p 560–564
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32834cd298
Immunotherapy and new treatments: Edited by Giovanni Passalacqua and Robert Bush

Purpose of review The purpose of this review is to research current evidence on cow's milk oral immunotherapy for the treatment of cow's milk allergy (CMA).

Recent findings The specific, active treatment for IgE-mediated food allergy included CMA, which is currently being investigated in human trials. Allergen-specific approaches include oral, sublingual and epicutaneous immunotherapy. Reports on oral immunotherapy (OIT) for the treatment of milk allergy have been more extensive and carried out mostly with native proteins. The aim of OIT with cow's milk is the achievement of desensitization or tolerance by patients suffering from CMA. Desensitization state can be achieved by approximately 36–92% of the children treated with specific immunotherapy; the rate of permanent tolerance is unknown. Longer duration of desensitization may result in permanent tolerance. The possibility of adverse events or reactions during OIT is quite frequent. Side-effects have been reported by patients in all published studies.

Summary OIT as an active treatment for CMA represents an emerging reality. Before this treatment can be used in clinical practice, additional studies are needed. Currently, many issues remain unanswered: severity and type of food allergy responsive to specific immunotherapy, degree of protection, ‘shared schedules’ of desensitization(s) in research settings and well established risk-to-benefit ratio. However the field of specific, active treatment of food allergy is poised for clinically important advances.

Allergy Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Allergy Unit, University of Messina, Messina, Italy

Correspondence to Professor Giovanni B. Pajno, MD, Allergy Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Allergy Unit, University of Messina, Via Consolare Valeria-Gazzi, 98125 Messina, ItalyTel: +39 090 2213162; fax: +39 090 2212143; e-mail:

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