By Allergen Bureau

New hope for kids with severe milk allergy

Results from a small clinical trial suggest children who are severely allergic to milk may be able to start tolerating it if they are given tiny amounts of baked milk powder followed by progressively larger doses.

About 3 per cent of preschool-aged children are allergic to proteins in cow’s milk, making it the most common food allergy in young children. Most naturally outgrow it by the time they go to school, but for one in five milk allergic kids, their condition persists.

The trial was conducted in 30 people with severe milk allergy, aged between 3 and 18 years. Half of the group received a daily placebo treatment, while baked milk powder was gradually introduced into the diet of the remaining group. Baked milk was used in the trial as it is typically less allergenic due to the high temperatures used in baking causing alterations to the milk protein structure.

After a year, challenge tests showed over 70 per cent of the group who had been consuming baked milk powder were able to tolerate the equivalent to half a cup of milk. None of those in the placebo group could tolerate this amount. While many of the participants in both groups experienced reactions during the trial, most were mild.

Larger studies are needed to confirm the effect, and the therapy must not be attempted without comprehensive medical advice and supervision.

Reference: Dantzer et al. 2021. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2021.10.023

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