Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common form of food allergy, affecting about one to three percent of young children. Until now, the only way of escaping allergy to milk was by avoiding all forms of milk and milk products. It has now been found that heating of milk denatures proteins that are responsible for causing allergy. Therefore, the intake of baked milk products induces fewer and milder allergic reactions. In a recent study, researchers investigated whether the consumption of baked milk products for a longer time would produce desensitization towards milk allergens. This could ultimately make the children tolerant to milk products. The authors of this study say, “Addition of dietary baked milk is safe, convenient, and well accepted by patients. Prescribing baked milk products to children with milk allergy represent an important shift in the treatment paradigm for milk allergy.”
It is estimated that allergy to cow’s milk is responsible for 13 percent of deaths occurring due to consumption of allergic foodstuff. The production of the IgE type of antibody against milk proteins plays a central role in the manifestation of this allergy. If children with milk allergy strictly avoided consuming milk and milk products, it led to malnutrition. Previous studies have shown that about 78 percent of children develop tolerance to milk by the time they are six years old. However, the mechanism of the development of such a tolerance is still unknown. In the present study, researchers examined the effect of the inclusion of baked milk products in the diet of children who were allergic to milk.
- Presence of allergy to milk was confirmed in 88 participants, either through skin allergy tests or by measuring the levels of IgE antibodies. In the initial step, all the participants were asked to consume baked milk, after which their sensitivity to it was assessed.
- Those who were sensitive to baked milk were instructed to avoid all forms of milk products, and were asked to repeat the challenge test after six months.
- Those who were tolerant to baked milk were asked to consume baked milk products for the next six months. After this, the participants of both the groups were given the challenge of consuming unheated milk that had the potential to induce allergy.
- Blood samples were collected from participants in both the groups to measure the levels of IgE antibodies. Their intestinal permeability was also regularly monitored. The entire assessment was carried out for an average period of 37 weeks.
- Out of the 88 participants tested, 65 children could tolerate baked milk products without developing symptoms of allergy.
- “Among subjects initially tolerant to baked milk, the probability of having unheated milk tolerance within 60 months was 80 percent. In contrast, this probability was only 24 percent among subjects who were initially baked milk reactive.”
- Levels of IgE antibodies and intestinal permeability were low in those who were tolerant to baked milk. Those children who were initially allergic to milk did not develop symptoms of allergy, like asthma or dermatitis, on consumption of baked milk. This observation confirms the safety of baked milk products.
Though this study points out the safety of using baked milk products for children suffering from milk allergy, there have been a few cases where children developed allergic reactions to baked milk as well. The authors suggest that inclusion of these products in the diet should be strictly performed under the supervision of a physician or someone with sufficient expertise in food allergy.
This study proves that children who are allergic to cow’s milk show tolerance to baked milk, developing only mild forms of allergy. About 75% of children who are diagnosed to have allergy to milk products tolerate baked milk well, without developing allergic symptoms. Regular intake of baked milk over a long period of time helps in bringing down the allergy to milk. This study has introduced a novel solution for the management of allergy to milk and its products. However, this form of treatment places the child at the risk of development of adverse allergic reactions, which may require the care of a physician.
For More Information:
Dietary Baked Milk Accelerates the Resolution of Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children
Publication Journal: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2011
By Jennifer Kim, MD; Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, MD
From the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.