Milk allergy affects half of U.S. food-allergic kids under age one

Most children with a milk allergy don’t carry epinephrine.


Cow’s milk and other dairy foods are a common cause of food allergy in babies. Severe allergic reactions to cow’s milk can be life-threatening, and should always be treated as medical emergencies that require immediate treatment with adrenaline.

A new study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting estimated that more than 2 % of the kids under the age 5, have a milk allergy. The study also found that almost 53% of babies under the age 1, are prone to cow’s milk allergy.

The study surveyed almost 53,000 parents in households with children across the U.S during October 2015 to September 2016. Scientists observed that  53 percent of food-allergic infants under age 1 have a milk allergy, the number drops to 41 percent of 1-2-year-olds, 34 percent of 3-5-year-olds and 15% of 11-17-year olds.

Christopher Warren, PhD(c), lead author of the study said, “Children in the U.S. spend their early years drinking milk, so it’s important to know that many of them – at least in the first few years – may be allergic. Our findings suggest that while milk allergy is relatively common during infancy, many children are likely to outgrow their milk allergies.”

Ruchi Gupta, MD, ACAAI member and study author said, “We know confusion exists over what a real milk allergy looks like. A child may have a milk intolerance that his parents mistake for a milk allergy. It’s important that any child suspected of having a milk allergy have the allergy confirmed with an allergist.”

“A food allergy of any kind can have a big effect on a household, including food costs and quality of life. A child with a milk allergy should receive counseling on how to avoid milk, but also on what it means to unnecessarily cut out foods. You don’t want to get rid of necessary nutrients.”

“Only 26 percent of milk-allergic children in the US have a current epinephrine auto-injector prescription – the lowest reported rate among the top nine food allergies.”

The study also recommends parents to ensure they have an epinephrine auto-injector available and should talk to their child’s allergist if they have any questions.

Abstract Title: The Epidemiology of Milk Allergy in U.S. Children: An Update

Authors: Christopher Warren, PPh.D. c) and Ruchi Gupta, MD, ACAAI member


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