Giving trace amounts of wheat to children with wheat allergy shows promise in treating the allergy, according to new research.

The researchers started with 46 wheat-allergic children, average age about 9 years, and gave them trace amounts of wheat. The researchers gradually increased the amount, to desensitize the children to wheat. This process is called oral immunotherapy.

After a year of treatment, 52 percent of the children could consume 4,443 milligrams (mg) of wheat protein, about the equivalent of one to two slices of bread, a hamburger bun, or a half-cup of cooked pasta, without suffering an allergic reaction.

“Overall, we were very pleased with the efficacy and safety of wheat oral immunotherapy for highly allergic patients,” said first study author Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn. She’s a clinical researcher at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

“As a next step, we look forward to further studies to establish the optimal maintenance dose and duration of oral immunotherapy for our young patients,” Nowak-Wegrzyn said in a Mount Sinai news release.

Wheat is one of the five most common food allergens, the others being egg, cow’s milk, peanut and soy, according to the researchers. Wheat is the main ingredient in common foods such as bread, pasta, pizza and cakes, but it can also be used as a binding agent in foods such as cold cuts and ice cream.

The study was published Oct. 30 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

More information

Food Allergy Research and Education has more on wheat allergy.

Source: HealthDay

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