New study sheds light on managing milk & egg allergies in young children

New study sheds light on managing milk & egg allergies in young children

  • 13 June 2024
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A recent study conducted by University College Cork reveals that the milk and egg ladder methods, a method of gradual milk or egg introduction, can be safe and effective for children with serious milk or egg allergies.

Milk and egg allergies are becoming more common in children, usually developing within the first year of life. These allergies occur when the immune system reacts to proteins in milk or eggs, causing an allergic response.

For a long time, people have debated how to manage milk and egg allergies in children. While many suggest completely avoiding these foods to prevent severe allergic reactions, introducing them at home using a ladder approach is becoming increasingly popular.

The egg and milk ladders are step-by-step methods used to reintroduce milk or eggs into the diet of children with these allergies. This method involves gradually increasing the amount of milk or egg consumed in a controlled way, starting with very small quantities and progressing to larger amounts over time. Evidence suggests this helps the child’s immune system adapt to the proteins causing the allergic reaction.

This is the largest study so far to examine the safety and effectiveness of the milk and egg ladders for children under three with serious allergies. The study included 458 children with these allergies, 70 of whom had experienced anaphylaxis at diagnosis.

Among the children with anaphylaxis, 78% to 85% successfully completed the ladders. The time it took to complete the ladders was similar for both groups, suggesting that neither the type of food nor the initial severity of symptoms affected the children’s ability to finish the ladder.

No child experienced anaphylaxis while progressing through the ladder. Most reactions were mild, including skin reactions and mild stomach symptoms, which parents managed at home. However, more children with milk allergies experienced allergic reactions during the ladder progression compared to those with egg allergies.

This successful study shows that the milk and egg ladders are safe and effective, even for children who start with anaphylaxis. It highlights the need for individualised support for children with frequent reactions and underscores the importance of educating parents on managing mild allergic reactions at home.

The results offer reassurance that with the right approach and support, children with milk and egg allergies can safely progress through reintroduction ladders, improving their quality of life and reducing the burden of food allergies.

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Please note, before trying the milk or egg ladder with your child, please consult with a suitable healthcare professional to ensure you have the correct instructions tailored to your child’s needs.