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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 823
Location: Kingston
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How does food allergy desensitization work?

It’s training the immune system so that you’d get a very small amount [of the allergen] over a period of time. Once a day, William would have roughly 1/100th of a peanut, or just underneath the level where he would react. He would get that every day for a few weeks and then they’d bump him up to 2/100th of a peanut for a couple of weeks. With the gradual increase, the immune system begins to accept that food as being normal.

Are many Canadian allergists offering this therapy, or is it too experimental?

Most are not. There’s been a warning from leading American allergist Dr. Hugh Sampson that this should only be done in a controlled situation in hospitals, not in doctors’ offices. Back in the early 1990s, at [National Jewish Health] hospital in Denver, a child died in a desensitization project. But Dr. Gordon Sussman, who desensitized Avi Segal in Toronto, says he has an emergency department in his building and he is confident that he can do this without any danger to his patients. Doctors can try this if they feel that the patient is a good candidate for this kind of desensitization. It’s a risk-benefit thing.

How broad is the consensus that desensitization is the best way to treat severe food allergies?

I think it’s generally accepted among immunologists worldwide that desensitization will be a successful way of [treating] kids. In a large study that came out of Cambridge University about a month ago, the researchers showed it was successful. But it’s not a cure, because it looks like every time you go off the daily dose of the allergen, the allergy comes back.


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