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Blood Test Might Sort Out Milk Allergies

Could spot those allergic to all milk products, those who can tolerate heated milk

SATURDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A blood test may help identify children with milk allergy who can tolerate baked-milk products and those who may have a serious allergic reaction to any form of cow's milk, a new study shows.

Previous research found that up to 75 percent of children with milk allergy can tolerate heated milk.

This new study found that immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies from children who reacted to both baked milk and unheated milk bound to more epitopes than IgE antibodies from children who had an allergic reaction only to unheated milk. There was a direct link between the severity of the allergic reaction and the number of epitopes recognized by IgE antibodies from a child.

"IgE antibodies can travel to a type of cell that releases chemicals and causes an allergic reaction. Each type of IgE has specific 'radar' for each type of allergen, such as cow's milk. An epitope is a site on a particular molecule, such as a milk protein, that stimulates specific immune responses," according to a news release from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

"With this blood test, we hope to be able to tell which cow's milk-allergic children will be able to tolerate milk in baked products without having to resort to oral food challenges. It may also provide some insight into the severity of allergic reaction that a patient might experience," study co-author Dr. Hugh Sampson, a professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said in the news release.

The research was to be presented Saturday at the academy's annual meeting in New Orleans.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about food allergy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Feb. 27, 2010

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