Can Your Child Outgrow a Food or Milk Allergy?

Posted 1.29.10 | Nutrition Specialist

So your little one has just been diagnosed with a milk or food allergy and you’re already wondering when (or even if) he or she will finally outgrow it. As much as your new elemental formula and allergen-friendly diet is helping, you can’t help but wonder when you can feed your child without anxiety. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Good news – It is possible for children to outgrow their allergies; however, it may depend on what the child is allergic to and the type of allergy. Most importantly, keep in mind that all children are different!

Children with cow’s milk allergy (CMA) may be more likely to outgrow their allergies than their peanut or tree nut allergy buddies. Studies have shown that about 45-50% of children outgrow a CMA at one year, 60-75% at two years and 85-90% at three years.[1],[2]

Now, compare that to the studies which show that about 20% and 10%, respectively, of young patients may outgrow peanut and tree nut allergies and approximately 8% of patients who outgrow a peanut allergy relapse. Additionally, nut related allergies are typically more severe and can even be fatal, which is quite scary![3]

If your little one has multiple protein allergies, such as both CMA and nut related allergies, he or she may outgrow the CMA while the nut related allergy could still persist. Still, outgrowing an allergy to cow’s milk will expand their diet and improve the quality of life and available foods for your little one.

The other factor that may influence your little one’s ability to outgrow an allergy is the levels of allergen-specific IgE detected in their blood. This means, the lower the allergen-specific IgE detected, the greater the chance of outgrowing the allergy. Your doctor can monitor this with either blood or skin prick tests.

As I mentioned before, all children are different. Your little one may have all the right “ingredients” to overcome their allergy, but they may be doing it at their own pace. Your doctor may decide to attempt a food trial by introducing some foods that your child is allergic to, in order to see if the allergy still persists. Be patient, sometimes food trials can be taxing.

As many of you know, I suffered from CMA growing up and over time, I was finally able to consume milk products. It happened gradually -first I stopped having a reaction when consuming cheese (most likely because it’s processed, so my immune system didn’t recognize the milk proteins as allergens) and then I could finally add in other foods that were previously not allowed in my diet.

So my advice to all of you new allergy parents is don’t worry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! To the more experienced allergy parents, can you shed any advice on food trials and outgrowing allergies? -


[1] de Boissieu D, Dupont C. Time course of allergy to extensively hydrolyzed cow's milk proteins in infants. J Pediatr 2000;136:119-20.
[2] de Boissieu D, Dupont C. Allergy to extensively hydrolyzed cow's milk proteins in infants: safety and duration of amino acid-based formula. : J Pediatr. 2002;141:271-3.
[3] The natural history of peanut and tree nut allergy. Fleischer DM. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2007 Jun;7(3):175-81. Review.

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.