As of July, about 10 of the Edmonton patients have completed the milk desensitization therapy. One child’s family was told not to continue following an anaphylactic reaction, while one girl quit the program rather than stick with the daily dose regime. Although the results are promising, the Edmonton allergists and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology stress that it is too risky to try desensitization on your own, without supervision from an allergy specialist.
The psychological effects of this treatment tend to be a rollercoaster ride. There are lows, but also the thrill of success and the delights of once-forbidden foods. Persevering through the milk treatment has given Josh Bjorndahl a boldness that carries into the rest of his life. “I think we underestimate the braveness of a kid doing this,” Wanner says. Her once-shy son was unfazed taking part in a recent tae kwon do demonstration in front of a huge group of people; a confidence that surprised his mother.
He is also delighted by the introduction of ice-cream sandwiches into his diet. Fellow patient Luke says strawberry- and orange-flavoured milk are his new favourites. And while Ethan has yet to warm up to a glass of milk, he certainly has taken to ice cream – especially strawberry-mango-peach flavour. “It was scary before,” he says of the frozen treat. “But now, it’s OK.”
First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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