December 23 : A new study found that children who are allergic to cow’s milk are less healthy. Milk, which is rich in calcium, is supposed to be the most important nutrient of growing children.
The study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, is the first of its kind to characterize growth patterns of children with food allergies, from early childhood to adolescence.
What the study reveals
The study found that children who stay away from cow’s milk due to allergy weigh less and look smaller. Children who are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts are healthier than children who cannot drink milk from childhood.
Karen A. Robbins, M.D., an allergist in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children's National Hospital, and the lead author of the study said that it is, however, unclear how much these growth patterns influence the children when they become adults. The study did not delve into how much the height and weight of these children suffer when they become adults. However, the study found that young adults with a persistent allergy to cow's milk may not reach their full growth potential.
The study revealed that the height of children between ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 are more affected if they are allergic to milk.
What can be done
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one out of 13 US children is allergic to milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. Since such allergies can sometimes become life-threatening, and with no cure to allergy, parents tend to keep children away from one or more major nutrients that they are allergic to.
Dr. Robbins said that it is important to find solutions to this phenomenon. He said while there will be future research to focus on improving the understanding of this aspect of a child’s growth, for the time being, it is important to know that such food allergies can be handled by introducing children to cow’s milk through baked goods. Moreover, a number of allergen-free foods are available in the market.