Following is a joint position statement issued by the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Recent studies of oral food desensitization suggest exciting possibilities for the 1.2 million Canadians with severe food allergies. Canadian families, particularly those families with young children living with food allergies, are understandably hopeful of medical advancements that could reduce the risk of a life threatening allergic reaction.
It is important, however, to keep the results from studies recently cited in the media in perspective. These are early days. No universal “cure” has been found. The number of study participants has been small, patients have been carefully selected, and the environments in which the studies were conducted have been very controlled.
The CSACI believes that decisions that affect public health must be evidence-based, as all good science is. There is not yet enough evidence to provide us with the information necessary to develop definitive guidelines for the public. As allergists in Canada and around the world continue to gain experience with this procedure both through research and in their own practices, the body of evidence will become greater and so too will our collective understanding of what this may mean for food allergic individuals.
In the interim, we urge families to NOT try oral desensitization for food allergies on their own. Instead, they should contact their allergist to discuss the benefits and risks of such an undertaking. Oral desensitization should only be conducted on appropriately chosen patients under the supervision and guidance of a trained and accredited allergist.
We further urge allergic individuals to continue to follow their usual safety strategies, including the individualized management plan they have developed with their allergist.