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Milk is safe, even encouraged, for some children after treatment for milk allergy
Date:8/18/2009

Some children with a history of severe milk allergy can safely drink milk and consume other dairy products every day, according to research led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and published in the Aug. 10 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Investigators followed up with a subset of children who were part of an earlier Hopkins Children's-led study published in 2008 in which patients allergic to milk were given increasingly higher doses of milk over time. For many of them, continuous exposure to milk allergens the proteins that trigger bad reactions slowly and gradually retrained their immune systems to better tolerate the very food that once sent those systems into overdrive.

The follow-up of 18 children ages 6 to 16 whose severe milk allergies had eased or disappeared found that all children were able to safely consume milk at home, and that reactions, while common, were generally mild and grew milder and milder over time. The follow-up varied from three to 17 months, depending on how long it took patients to increase their milk intake.

These findings also suggest that regular use of milk and dairy foods may be needed for children to maintain their tolerance.

"We now have evidence from other studies that some children once successfully treated remain allergy-free even without daily exposure, while in others the allergies return once they stop regular daily exposure to milk," says Robert Wood, M.D., the study's senior investigator and director of Allergy & Immunology at Hopkins Children's. "This may mean that some patients are truly cured of their allergy, while in others the immune system adapts to regular daily exposure to milk and may, in fact, need the exposure to continue to tolerate it," he adds.

After up to 17 months of at-home consumption, 13 of the 18 children who could tolerate increasingly higher doses were asked to return to the clinic for milk-drinking test
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-516-4996
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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