A small study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Duke University has shown that sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) treatments can help milk allergic children overcome their allergies, ScienceDaily reports.
The findings, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, bring us one step closer to the increased acceptance of SLIT in this country. The therapy involves administering increasingly higher doses of the allergenic substance or food under the tongue until the allergic individual's immune system no longer reacts.
Hopkins Children had already done some research on oral immunotherapy, showing that this treatment is successful. The difference between oral and sublingual immunotherapy is that with oral immunotherapy, the patient ingests the milk protein rather than placing it under the tongue, as in the case of SLIT.
So how do the two types of treatment compare? While both methods seem to be effective in treating milk allergies, oral immunotherapy appears to be slightly more effective than SLIT; however, SLIT is done with lower doses of the offending allergen, making this therapy a lower risk for severe allergic reaction to the treatment itself.
Lead investigator of the study, Robert Wood, M.D., director of Allergy and Immunology at Hopkins Children's says, ‘We are very excited to see that both approaches can achieve significant improvement in children with milk allergies, but we continue to see slightly better tolerance in children on oral immunotherapy. Nonetheless, SLIT emerges as a new, if slightly less powerful, weapon in our arsenal.’
Researchers caution that both therapies can lead to violet allergic reactions and that these treatments should always be done under a physician's care. Furthermore, the study was quite small; the research will need to be conducted on larger groups before conclusive results can be drawn.
To read more about SLIT, see Sublingual Immunotherapy Offers Hope of a Cure for Allergies.