Despite Higher Risk, Milk Oral Immunotherapy Successful for Patients with Asthma

Individuals with both asthma and food allergies are at heightened risk for severe reactions and fatal anaphylaxis. For that reason, milk-allergic patients with asthma are often excluded from clinical trials for milk oral immunotherapy (MOIT), a treatment course which aims to desensitize patients to milk.

Elf on the Shelf Idea for Kids With Food (18)

A recent study from researchers at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel enrolled milk-allergic patients with asthma and without asthma in a MOIT treatment course to determine the long-term outcome of MOIT for patients with asthma. Published in the March 2015 edition of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, their results showed that, although they experienced more reactions during MOIT treatment and were less likely to be fully desensitized, asthma patients could still be successfully treated to a degree that would protect them from accidental exposures to milk.

A few key findings were:

  • Before MOIT began, patients with asthma had more previous anaphylactic reactions, emergency department visits and hospital admissions, demonstrating they are at a higher risk for severe reactions than patients without asthma. Similarly, during the course of treatment, patients with asthma were more likely to have reactions or need to administer epinephrine.
  • More than 80 percent of patients with asthma, regardless of severity, reached a dose likely to protect them from accidental exposure to milk.
  • The researchers recommended that asthma patients should not be excluded from consideration for MOIT. The treatment can potentially reduce the risk for anaphylaxis due to accidental exposure for these patients.

FARE notes that this is a preliminary study, and cautions that oral immunotherapy is an experimental treatment approach. There is no FDA-approved treatment for food allergy. For more information about food allergy research, please visit www.foodallergy.org/research.