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Background: Although the natural history of cow's milk allergy is to resolve during childhood or adolescence, a small but significant proportion of children will remain allergic. Specific oral tolerance induction to cow's milk (CM-SOTI) provides a treatment option in these children with continuing allergy with high success rates. However current sentiment limits widespread availability as existing reports advise that it is too soon to translate CM-SOTI into routine clinical practice.
Methods: In January 2007 we implemented a slow up-dosing CM-SOTI program. Eligible subjects were identified at routine visits to our children's allergy clinic. Persisting cow's milk allergy was confirmed from recent contact symptoms or a positive baked milk challenge. As allergic symptoms are common during CM-SOTI, families were provided with ready dietetic access for advice on dosing and symptom treatment. Subjects were continuously monitored at subsequent clinic visits or telephonically, where no longer followed, for a median of 49 months.
Results: The first 50 subjects (35 males) treated ranged in age from 5.1 to 15.8 years (median 10.3 years). Full tolerance (250 mL) was achieved in 23 subjects, 9 without any symptoms, and a further 9 achieved partial tolerance with continued ingestion. Eighteen children failed to achieve any regular milk ingestion; 11 because of persistent or significant symptoms whilst 8 withdrew against medical advice. Allergic symptoms were predominantly mild to moderate in severity, although 2 cases needed treatment with inhaled salbutamol and a further 2 required intramuscular adrenaline. Clinical tolerance, both full and partial, persists beyond 5 years.
Conclusion: We have demonstrated that a CM-SOTI program can be successfully and safely implemented as routine clinical practice with acceptable compliance during prolonged home up-dosing, despite frequent allergic symptoms, and for up to 4 years after starting treatment. CM-SOTI can thus be put into practice more widely where there is appropriate support.
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