Children with Milk/Egg Allergy at High Risk for Peanut Allergy!!!

Dairy allergy, also known as milk allergy, is an allergic reaction to components in cow’s milk and is the most common allergy in children. Since there are similar components in goat’s and sheep’s milk, this could also cause an allergic reaction. The three components in cow’s milk which cause a dietary reaction would be casein protein, whey protein and lactose sugar. Casein and whey are thought to cause a true allergy reaction while lactose causes an intolerance due to the body’s lack of lactase (enzyme). The primary treatment for a dairy allergy is avoidance – depending on severity either total elimination or occasional consumption of dairy products. Foods to avoid would be any products containing milk such as: yogurt, cheese, butter and cream. Also, processed foods may contain milk.

Egg allergy appears mainly, but not exclusively, in children. In fact, it is the second most common food allergy in children. It is usually treated with an exclusion and vigilant avoidance of foods that may be contaminated with egg.

Peanut allergy is a type of food allergy, distinct and different from nut allergies. The difference is a peanut is a legume related to other beans such as peas, lentils and soybeans and a tree nut is a dry fruit. Peanut allergy is a hypersensitivity to the protein in peanuts causing an overreaction of the immune system which may lead to severe symptoms for people. There are three ways exposure to peanuts can occur: direct contact by eating peanuts or peanut-containing foods; cross contact by peanuts exposed during processing of a food product; inhalation of peanut dust or aerosols. Peanut allergy is the most prevalent food allergy in the U.S. and is the most common cause of food related deaths. The only way to avoid an allergic reaction is strict avoidance of peanuts and of any foods that may be contaminated with peanuts.

The aim of a recent study was to determine whether infants with a likely milk or egg allergy were at an increased risk of peanut allergy. The trial included 512 infants aged 3 to 15 months in which 302 of the infants had a history of a positive skin prick test (SPT) response to milk or egg. Infants with a known peanut allergy were excluded from the study. The level of IgE antibodies to peanuts was measured in the infants as part of the initial assessment. The researchers discovered that more of the infants had elevated levels of IgE antibody to peanuts than had been anticipated, and some of these infants had such high levels that they may already be allergic to peanuts without their parents even knowing it yet. Based on these findings, the study authors suggest that parents of infants who have milk or egg allergies should be evaluated by a health care professional before introducing peanuts into their diet.1

1 Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Stablein D, et al. Immunologic features of infants with milk or egg allergy enrolled in an observational study (Consortium of Food Allergy Research) of food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunology. May2010;125(5):1077-1083.