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 study presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology/World Allergy Organisation (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 children’s growth,” said Karen A Robbins, a pediatric allergist/immunologist at Children’s National Health System and lead author of the study, according to a press statement from the conference. She added, “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.”
According to the AAAAI, approximately 6-8% of US children suffer from a food allergy. Eight food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions, including milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. An 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,” said Robbins. “They never have had cow’s milk in their diet. Looking at food labelling, 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.”