The hospital is using a process of gradual desensitisation, exposing patients to small quantities of milk and eggs initially and then increasing these. In under two months, in the case of eggs, and between three and four, in the case of milk, patients will be able to drink a glass of milk or one egg daily, it claims.
Milk and eggs are not just basic foods are present in a wide range of cooked products, either as ingredients or in traces, Dr María José Goikoetxea, specialist in the Department of Allergology and Immunology at the hospital, said.
Consequently, overcoming patients’ allergies would substantially improve their qualty of life and give them access to a range of food products not currently available to them.
"In general, it is an allergy that about 80% of children overcome spontaneously at three years of age. But there remains that 20% who do not,” stressed Goikoetxea.
Results highly positive
The treatment, already applied in other hospitals in Spain, has been applied at the University of Navarre Hospital since the beginning of this year and the results have been highly positive, she said.
"If we take a child or an adolescent, we can see that after the treatment they can eat cake in the morning, have a fried egg or a yoghurt for dinner, for example, and, moreover, they do not have to check the labels of all the products they consume. When they were patients they could not eat anything that had milk and eggs .”
However, in order for the treatment to be effective, patients who have built up a resistance to allergenic reactions must continue consuming the products regularly, said Goikoetxea. “This is the maintenance stage, i.e. the patient has to take a glass of milk daily and three eggs a week because if we eliminate the stimulus of these foods, we could lose the tolerance again.”
Known as food desensitisation, induction to oral tolerance, or immunotherapy with food, the treatment involves manipulating and correcting the organism’s defences.