Moms of kids who are allergic to milk know how hard it is to keep them away from it. It's in pizza, and milkshakes, and birthday cupcakes and just about everything else little kids love to eat.
Now some scientists are saying milk-allergic children might be better off if they were allowed to have those cupcakes and milkshakes. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that giving milk to kids who are allergic to it gradually retrains their immune systems to either disregard or accept the allergens in milk that used to cause the bad reactions. This is good news, since we recently heard that food allergies in kids are on the rise.
Here's how they found this out:
They selected 19 severely allergic kids ages 6 to 17 and gave half of them a milk powder and the other half a placebo powder--but none of the children nor their parents knew whether they were eating/drinking milk or not. At the start of the experiment, all of the children could digest only about a quarter teaspoon of milk without getting hives, stomach aches, or eczema (check out Cafe Suzanne's solutions to eczema in Baby Buzz). The milk eaters got progressively higher doses of the powder over the four-month study.
At the end of the four months, all 19 kids ate or drank the milk powder as a challenge to see what dose would cause a reaction. And whaddaya know--the group that was eating or drinking the milk powder all along could suddenly tolerate about 5 ounces of milk without any problem. Those on the placebo could still only manage a quarter of a teaspoon.
Right now, allergic kids are taught to avoid all foods that cause reactions--and you should continue to follow that advice. Please, do not try this at home. This is a brand new study involving only 19 kids, so there's a lot more work that needs to be done before doctors really prove the theory out.
But for now, at least it gives moms of allergic kids hope. To talk to and commiserate with some of those moms, go to one of the groups on this site, like Moms of Kids With Severe Food Allergy and Anaphlaxis or Babies or Toddlers With Food Allergies or Eczema.