Efficacy and safety of food allergy oral immunotherapy in adults

Na’ama Epstein-Rigbi*, Michael B. Levy, Liat Nachshon, Yael Koren, Yitzhak Katz, Michael R. Goldberg, Arnon Elizur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is an emerging method for treating food allergy in children. However, data regarding adults undergoing this process are lacking. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of patients with food allergy aged ≥17 years who completed OIT treatment between April 2010 and December 2020 at Shamir Medical Center. Data were compared with that of children aged 4 to <11 years and adolescents aged ≥11 to 17 treated during the same time period. Results: A total of 96 adults at a median age of 22.3 years who underwent OIT for milk (n = 53), peanut (n = 18), sesame (n = 7), egg (n = 5), and tree nuts (n = 13) were analyzed and compared with 1299 children and 309 adolescents. Adults experienced more adverse reactions requiring injectable epinephrine, both during in-clinic up-dosing (49% vs. 15.9% and 26.5% for children and adolescents, respectively, p < 0.0001) and during home treatment (22.9% vs. 12.4%, p = 0.007 for children, and 17.5%, p = 0.23 for adolescents). Most adults (61.5%) were fully desensitized, but the rates of full desensitization were significantly lower than children (73.4%, p = 0.013). Significantly more adults (28.3%) undergoing milk OIT failed treatment than children (14.3%, p = 0.015) and adolescents (14.1%, p = 0.022), while failure rates in adults undergoing OIT for other foods were low (9.3%) and comparable with children and adolescents. Conclusions: OIT is successful in desensitizing most adults with IgE-mediated food allergy. Adults undergoing milk OIT are at increased risk for severe reactions and for OIT failure while failure rates in adults undergoing OIT for other foods are low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-811
Number of pages9
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • adults
  • desensitization
  • food allergy
  • maintenance dose
  • oral immunotherapy


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