Outgrowing Milk Allergy

More than one-third of children outgrow milk allergy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Milk allergy is the most common food allergy among children. However, new research shows that milk allergy is just a stage for some children.

A team of researchers from around the U.S. found that more than one-third of children will outgrow their allergy to milk around two years of age. The researchers also identified a few ways to measure a child's likelihood of outgrowing milk allergy.

dailyRx Insight: By age 2, many children will outgrow milk allergies.

Milk allergy is more likely to disappear in children who have lower levels of milk antibodies (called immunoglobulin E), a smaller wheal (skin bumps) after a prick skin test, and mild eczema (as opposed to more severe eczema).

These findings are likely to help doctors give guidance to families with children who have this allergy. If a doctor knows a child's chances of overcoming milk allergy, that doctor can counsel parents on how best to deal with this childhood disease that puts a strain on the whole family, according to one of the study's authors Robert A. Wood, M.D.

For their study, Wood and colleagues - from Duke, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, National Jewish, and the University of Arkansas - examined 244 children with milk allergy. After three and a half years, 89 of those 244 children no longer were allergic to milk. That means that nearly 40 percent of children with milk allergy are likely to outgrow their food allergy.

More than half of the entire population of the United States, 150 million individuals, would test positive for one or more allergen. Allergic responses are caused when the body's immune system has a reaction called hypersensitivity, causing the body to release inflammatory proteins into the body. Allergies include airborne particulate matter, food allergies, drug allergies, and skin irritants. Symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, and runny nose to airborne allergens; indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea to food allergies, and hives, itching, and rashes to skin allergens. In some cases, an extreme, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur in response to allergies to drugs, bee stings, or even food allergies that can cause the patient's airways to close up from swelling. Medication treatments include many over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec®, Allegra®, and Claritin®, and prescription medications, like steroids (AeroBid®, Flonase®, Advair®) and anti-leukotrienes (Singulair®, Accolate®). Diagnosis are made through blood tests or skin tests.

These findings were reported at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 21, 2011
Last Updated:
March 21, 2011