SATURDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Children may not be outgrowing their allergy to milk as quickly as experts previously have believed.
In a study of 244 children with confirmed milk allergy, just over a third outgrew it within 30 months.
But that finding is in conflict with earlier studies that found a much higher percentage of children outgrowing the allergy fairly quickly, said Dr. Scott Sicherer, a pediatrics professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who led the new research.
"We used to say 85 or 90 percent would outgrow [milk allergies] by the time they are 3 or 4 years old," Sicherer said. But more recent studies, he said, are finding that children may be hanging on to the allergy longer.
Sicherer was to present the new study's findings Saturday in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
About 2.5 percent of children younger than 3 years are allergic to milk, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. The allergy typically appears during the first year of life.
Milk allergy involves an immune system response in which antibodies react to the offensive milk proteins. It's different, Sicherer said, from the much more common lactose intolerance, in which a deficiency in the enzyme lactase makes it difficult to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk.
For their research, which included another study as well, Sicherer and his colleagues enrolled more than 500 children, 3 to 15 months old, to evaluate egg and milk allergies. The study presented at the meeting focused just on those with milk allergy.
In all, 244 children were found to be allergic to milk, verified either by a blood test that measures antibodies known as IgE (which can react to the milk proteins casein or whey), medical history of an allergy, a positive skin test or a skin rash af
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