Kids persistently allergic to cow's milk are smaller than peers with nut allergies

March 4, 2018, Children's National Medical Center

Children who experience persistent allergies to cow's milk may remain shorter and lighter throughout pre-adolescence when compared with children who are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, according to a retrospective chart review to be presented March 4, 2018, during the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/World Allergy Organization (AAAAI/WAO) Joint Conference.

"The relationship between food allergies and childhood growth patterns is complex, and we have an incomplete understanding about the influence food allergies have on 's growth," says Karen A. Robbins, M.D., a pediatric allergist/immunologist at Children's National Health System and lead study author. "Our study begins to fill this research gap but further study is needed, especially as children enter their teens, to gauge whether these growth deficits are transitory or lasting."

Approximately 6 percent to 8 percent of U.S. children suffer from a food , according to the AAAAI. Eight food groups account for 90 percent of serious allergic reactions, including , egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds. Allergy to cow's milk in particular can foreclose a wide array of food choices during early childhood, a time when children's bodies undergo a series of growth spurts.

"We learned from our previous research that there is a continuum of risk for deficits in height and weight among children with food allergies, and kids who are allergic to cow's milk are at heightened risk," Dr. Robbins adds. "They never have had cow's milk in their diet. Looking at food labeling, many items 'may contain milk,' which severely narrows what could be a wide variety of food items for growing children. They also frequently have allergies to additional foods."

To gauge how specific allergies impact children's height and weight, the study team conducted a longitudinal chart review for 191 children. To be included in the study, the children had to have at least one clinic visit from the time they were aged 2 to 4, 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 years old, ages that span from to preadolescence. From each clinical visit, the research team recorded weight; height; co-morbid conditions, such as asthma, eczema and seasonal allergies; and use of inhaled corticosteroids.

They calculated mean differences in height, weight and body mass index (BMI) z-scores, which act like the percentile measures kids and parents hear about during well-child visits, comparing values with what is normal among other kids of the same age and gender in the general population.

"Children who are allergic to cow's milk had lower mean weight and height when compared with kids who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts," she says. "These growth deficits remained prominent in the 5- to 8-year-old and the 9- to 12-year-old age ranges."

Dr. Robbins says future research will explore whether older children with cow's milk allergies begin to bridge that height gap during their teen years or if growth differences persist.

Explore further: Food allergies: to test or not to test

Related Stories

Food allergies: to test or not to test

February 14, 2018
(HealthDay)—About 5 percent of American children and 4 percent of adults have a food allergy, but many more are getting unnecessary testing.

Food allergies tied to impaired growth in kids

February 25, 2013
(HealthDay)—Food allergies appear to affect children's growth, a new study suggests.

New study suggests 21 percent increase in childhood peanut allergy since 2010

October 27, 2017
Parents often worry about peanut allergies because the reaction to peanuts can be very severe. New late-breaking research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific ...

Almost half of food allergies in adults appear in adulthood

October 27, 2017
When people think of food allergies, it's mostly in relation to children. New late-breaking research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting shows that almost ...

Food allergies linked to raised risk of asthma, hay fever

September 14, 2016
(HealthDay)—Children with food allergies are at increased risk for asthma and hay fever, and the risk rises with the number of food allergies, new research shows.

AAAAI: early-life secondhand smoke may up food allergy risk

March 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Exposure to secondhand smoke in the first few weeks of life could increase the risk that children will develop food allergies, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of ...

Recommended for you

Quintupling inhaler medication may not prevent asthma attacks in children

March 19, 2018
Children with mild to moderate asthma do not benefit from a common practice of increasing their inhaled steroids at the first signs of an asthma exacerbation, according to clinical trial results published in The New England ...

How allergens trigger asthma attacks

March 19, 2018
A team of Inserm and CNRS researchers from the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology have identified a protein that acts like a sensor detecting allergens in the respiratory tract that are responsible for asthma ...

Single steroid-bronchodilator treatment for control and rescue improves persistent asthma

March 19, 2018
When it comes to treating teens and adults with persistent asthma, using a single corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator treatment for both daily asthma control and for rescue relief during sudden asthma attacks is ...

Obesity and health problems: New research on a safeguard mechanism

March 16, 2018
Obesity and its negative impacts on health - including metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular complications - are a global pandemic (Taubes, 2009). The worldwide incidence of obesity has more than ...

Immune system 'double agent' could be new ally in cancer fight

March 16, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have discovered that an enzyme called TAK1 functions like a "double agent" in the innate immune response, serving as an unexpected regulator of inflammation and cell death. ...

Artificial sweetener Splenda could intensify symptoms in those with Crohn's disease

March 15, 2018
In a study that has implications for humans with inflammatory diseases, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have found that, given over a six-week period, the artificial sweetener ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.