Will My Child Outgrow Their Cow Milk Allergy?


Posted 5.24.17 | Christine Graham-Garo


When children are diagnosed with milk allergies, parents might wonder, “Will my baby grow out of it?” As much as your new hypoallergenic formula and allergen-friendly diet is helping, you can’t help but wonder when you can feed your child without anxiety. Keep in mind, it’s normal to wonder!

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

Children with cow milk allergy (CMA) may be more likely to outgrow their allergies than their peanut or tree nut allergy buddies. One research study showed that 80% of kids diagnosed with a CMA will outgrow their allergy by 16 years of age[1]. More specifically, other research studies have found that about 45-50% of children outgrow CMA at one year, 60-75% at two years and 85-90% at three years.[2],[3]

Fortunately, the general consensus is that around 80% of children with cow milk allergy will outgrow it by 3-5 years of age[5]. Regular follow up by your medical specialist is important to re-test tolerance of cow milk protein.[6]

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 will later relapse, meaning the allergy comes back. Additionally, nut-related allergies are typically more severe and more likely to be fatal, which is quite scary![3]

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

Now this may be “good news/bad news” for some families. The good news is that the chance of the cow milk allergy being outgrown is very good, even if the child has the allergy into their teenage years, they are still likely to outgrow it. The bad news is that some infants with CMA may have it into their early teenage years, and a handful may never outgrow it.

The other factor that may influence your little one’s chances of outgrowing a food 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 - make sure to ask them to explain the results, show you have the level has changed over time, and explain what the possible implications are.

As mentioned before, all children are different. Your little one may have all the right “ingredients” to overcome their cow milk allergy, but there is no way to know exactly when he or she will outgrow it. 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.

Our advice to allergy parents is not to worry, there is usually a light at the end of the tunnel! It’s wonderful if a child can outgrow their cow milk allergy, but if not, they can still thrive and lead happy, healthy lives.

To the more experienced food allergy parents, can you shed any advice on food trials and outgrowing allergies? Comment below or share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page!


[1] Skripack et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007

[2] de Boissieu D, Dupont C. Time course of allergy to extensively hydrolyzed cow's milk proteins in infants. J Pediatr 2000;136:119-20.

[3] 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.

[4] The natural history of peanut and tree nut allergy. Fleischer DM. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2007 Jun;7(3):175-81. Review.

[5] March 2016.  Cow’s milk (dairy) allergy, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, [http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/cows-milk-dairy-allergy] Viewed 6 May 2016

[6] Motala & Fiocchi, 2012, Cow’s milk allergy in children, World Allergy Organisation, [http://www.worldallergy.org/professional/allergic_diseases_center/cows_milk_allergy_in_children/] Viewed 15 May 2016

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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.