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The Milk and Egg Section

Trailblazing Kids Desensitize to Dairy Allergy

Parents of dairy-allergic children are jumping at the chance to try milk desensitization when Carr offers it. There is much appeal in the thought of dispensing with the constant worry of a reaction and the challenges of avoiding dairy. The children, however, who’ve only known a life of avoiding their allergens, often take more convincing. Josh had to be coaxed to try cow’s milk.

When Cathy Bradstreet of Slave Lake arrived at Carr’s office with her son Luke Broad in tow, the boy adamantly refused the first dose of milk. Memories of a bad reaction to cashews at age 6 ran through the 8-year-old’s mind. “It took me, Dr. Carr, his father, and the secretary about half an hour to talk him into doing it,” Bradstreet says. “It was the thought of having to have a big needle in his leg, I suppose.”

His parents reassured the lad, noting that if the allergist thought it was safe to try, it probably was. Reluctantly, Luke stuck out his tongue and let Carr put a drop of milk on it. When Luke showed no sign of reaction, his family took him to the famous West Edmonton Mall as a reward.

By July, Luke was taking two millilitres (almost half a teaspoon) of milk a day. Staying on track with the daily doses in those first six months is crucial to this treatment’s success, and a challenge.

To persuade often reluctant kids to abide by the routine, their parents have been telling them they have to stick with it if they want a chance of losing the dairy allergy. Some moms dangle the carrot of new foods – “you’ll probably be able to eat ice cream”; “there will be cheese and yogurt” – but only “if you take your milk doses and build your tolerance”.

If it can be hard for kids to start taking an allergen, and with side effects tough on the whole family, is dairy desensitization worth it? The answer from the mothers Allergic Living spoke to was a unanimous “yes.” Even for the kids who now tolerate just a couple millilitres of milk, the therapy is already changing the life these families have known.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.