Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is an effective treatment for children with persistent food allergy, and has concerns about its safety, including eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of EoE in a large cohort of children who underwent OIT in our center, and to determine if there were any clinical, endoscopic, or histologic differences depending on the food employed for the OIT.
A retrospective study was performed over a 15-year period (2005–2020). Children who underwent cow’s milk (CM), egg, and/or peanut OIT and developed EoE were included.
Six hundred and seven OIT were carried out (277 CM-OIT, 322 egg-OIT, and 8 peanut-OIT). Seventeen patients (2.8%) had a confirmed histologic diagnosis of EoE with a higher prevalence for patients who underwent CM-OIT (3.9%) than egg-OIT (2.2%). Symptoms suggestive of EoE and a confirmed diagnosis occurred at median times of 25 and 36 months, respectively, after the build-up phase of the OIT was completed. Choking, abdominal pain, and dysphagia were the most frequent symptoms and lamina propria fibrosis was observed in 41.2% of patients. No significant differences in clinical symptoms, endoscopic, or histologic findings between patients under CM or egg-OIT were found. One-third of patients reported mild symptoms suggestive of EoE before the OIT.
EoE appears to be a rare but important adverse event that can occur even years after OIT. Validated questionnaires to screen EoE before the OIT and in the follow-up of these patients may be the main tool for an early diagnosis.