Objectives: To desensitize children with severe immunoglobulin (Ig)E-mediated cow's milk allergy in a period of 6 months by introducing increasing daily doses of cow's milk (CM) in order to enable the child to assume 200 ml of CM daily, or to induce tolerance of the highest possible CM dose.
Study design: Twenty-one children at least 6 years old with severe IgE-mediated CM allergy were admitted to the study. A convincing history of IgE-mediated CM allergy or a positive double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge with CM confirmed the diagnosis. Oral desensitization was performed with increasing doses starting from 0.06 mg of CM proteins.
Results: Overall, 15 of 21 children (71.4%) achieved the daily intake of 200 ml during a 6-month period; three of 21 children (14.3%) tolerated 40–80 ml/day of undiluted CM; three of 21 children (14.3%) failed the desensitization because they presented allergic symptoms after ingesting minimal amounts of diluted CM.
Conclusions: We successfully desensitized 15 of 21 children with severe IgE-mediated CM allergy in a period of 6 months. We stress the importance of the partial outcome in those three of 21 children who could not reach the maximum amount of 200 ml/day of whole CM, but were able to tolerate 40–80 ml/day of CM. In this way we dramatically reduced the risk of severe reactions after accidental or unnoticed introduction of low quantities of CM. We do not propose generalizing this method beyond trained staff.