Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


Which came first: atopic dermatitis or food allergy?

Posted 3.17.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

In food allergy circles, we usually think of symptoms and side effects as results of food allergies, not the other way around. In most cases that’s true. Science has shown a strong link between food allergy and atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema. Last month Dr. Jon Hanifin, a respected dermatologist, gave a talk to colleagues discussing the link between atopic dermatitis and food allergies. The research he presented suggests that for some patients it may actually be atopic dermatitis that comes first and acts as a precursor to food allergies.

Atopic dermatitis is often one of the first signs that a parent or caregiver notices in their child which helps lead to the diagnosis of food allergy. As Dr. Hanifin explained, about 6-10% of children are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, and of those about a third will be diagnosed with a food allergy. Which begs the question: If parents notice signs of atopic dermatitis first, and an allergy diagnosis comes later, couldn’t atopic dermatitis be causing some instances of food allergy?

What We Know:

-In cases of food allergy, offending foods cause reactions in the body which involve the immune system

-Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) are immune substances which are normally in our bodies at low levels, but are higher with food allergy

-Allergy symptoms often involve the skin (including our digestive tract, which is like an inside skin), an important barrier that keeps most outside “things” from getting inside

-One factor of atopic dermatitis is “holes” in the barrier our skin provides

What Dr. Hanifin Proposed:

In the past it was assumed that food allergies came first, causing both high IgE levels and atopic dermatitis. Dr. Hanifin suggested that in some patients atopic dermatitis is caused by “gaps” in the skin (likely due to genetics), which means that foreign substances can enter the skin and cause adverse reactions. He thinks it may be proteins that get through these gaps which allows the body to become sensitive to certain foods, leading to a food allergy.

What does all of this mean? The biggest message here is that patients with atopic dermatitis, especially those under five years, should be tested for food allergies. While avoiding food allergens may not help improve atopic dermatitis, it could certainly prevent or improve other serious side effects of allergies. The second message is that more research needs to be done into the causes of atopic dermatitis and its relationship to food allergies. Any research that leads to better health, through reducing instances of atopic dermatitis and/or food allergies, is good research! Tell us about your experience: Was atopic dermatitis the first sign that you saw of your child’s food allergy?

- Rob

AAAAI Annual Meeting

Posted 3.15.11 | Sarah O'Brien

This weekend, March 18 – 22, we will be joining the best and brightest allergy and immunology experts at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) annual meeting in San Francisco, California.

AAAAI was established in 1943 and is the largest professional allergy and immunology medical organization in the United States. With nearly 6,500 members, AAAAI is made up of asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and many others, all of who have a special interest in researching and treating allergic diseases.

Presenting new advancements and findings for allergy, asthma and immunology patients is the main goal of AAAAI and the annual meeting and we are looking forward to learning from the presentations at the conference. Some of the food allergy-related topics this year include:

  • The Food Allergy Guidelines: From Controversy to Consensus
  • What is New in Pediatric Allergy
  • Activation of the Innate Immune System by Allergens: How Allergic Reactions get Started
  • Living with Risk: Quality of Life for Families with Food Allergies

We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all of the fun and exciting things we hope to learn this weekend!

- Sarah

Celebrating Valentine’s Day Safely

Posted 2.10.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Not so many years ago, it was pretty common for kids to give classmates valentines with candy, bring in baked goods to share, and have a Valentine’s Day party at school. While a lot of classrooms have cut back on such activities, it’s still a great idea to play it safe this Valentine’s Day and avoid the risk of allergic reactions.


Since Valentine’s Day falls on a school day this year, the best thing you can do is to remind your child’s teacher(s) of allergies ahead of time. If valentines are going to be exchanged or a party is planned, the teacher can help share information with other parents to ensure that everyone remains safe from potential allergens. Feel free to offer to send a “safe” treat in with your child if they won’t be able to enjoy other foods.

If your child is going to a friend’s house for a Valentine’s Day party, make sure to check in with the host parents to make sure they are aware your little one has a food allergy and ask what will be served ahead of time. Remind your child that they should keep an eye out for allergens: even if a party has a menu, there’s no guarantee other parents won’t send unplanned treats.


Are you a teacher? If so, remember that the safest valentine for a child with an allergy is one that doesn’t include candy. You may find it easiest to institute a “cards only” rule if valentines are exchanged. A Valentine’s Day party can be great without the snacks by involving fun games or crafts. You could also keep the food and ensure it’s safe by purchasing or preparing snacks yourself that you know are safe and instituting a “no treats” rule for parents.

If you’re a parent who’s hosting a get-together for some of your child’s playmates, it’s best to check ahead of time with other parents to ask about allergies. Other parents may be more than happy to contribute allergen-free foods to the menu, or you can forgo food altogether and host the party away from mealtime with some fun activities instead.


Whether your child has an allergy or not, make sure he/she is giving valentines that are safe for other students in their class who may have an allergy of their own. Lots of valentine multi-packs include candy, which most kids enjoy. However, to keep the valentines your child hands out safe, you might consider sprucing up a “traditional” card-only valentine. You can add to the “cool factor” by including valentine-themed tattoos, stickers, or other approved favors in place of edible gifts.

Have a child that can’t enjoy chocolate or the usual treats? Try out our recipe for a knock-out knock-off of chocolate pudding. Also consider family-friendly activities that don’t involve food. Finally, a t-shirt, CD, game or even small vase of flowers could be the surprise gift your child wasn’t expecting!

What tips do you have to keep Valentine’s Day worry free?

- Rob

Food Allergies and Multivitamins: Are Phlexy Vits Appropriate For Your Child?

Posted 9.2.10 | Mallory West

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend the use of multivitamins for all children because eating a balanced diet (with iron-fortified foods) is usually sufficient to meet a child’s vitamin and mineral requirements. However, for a child with a restricted diet, a multivitamin may be necessary. We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about Phlexy Vits, our powdered micronutrient supplement, so I wanted to use this blog post to provide some more information on it.

Phlexy Vits are a powdered micronutrient supplement containing vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They were designed to meet the nutritional needs of older children (11+) and adults. Occasionally Phlexy Vits are used in children but the dosage must be adjusted and this should only be done under the direction and supervision of a healthcare professional.

Phlexy Vits were actually originally developed for patients with Phenylketonuria or PKU, who require a restrictive, low protein diet. However, they may be useful for anybody with a medical condition that requires them to follow a restrictive diet. We have received inquiries about the use of Phlexy Vits for patients with multiple food allergies because many popular multivitamin brands contain hidden allergens.

Hidden Allergens in Children’s Vitamins

Below is a list of popular children’s multivitamins and the food allergens that they contain:

  • Centrum Children’s: contains milk, soy and wheat (as well as lactose)
  • Flintstones Complete and Flintstones Plus Immunity: contain soy
  • Flintstones Gummies: contains wheat and tree nuts
  • One-A-Day Scooby Doo Gummies: contains wheat and tree nuts

Vitamins for Children 11 and Older with Food Allergies

For older children (11+) with food allergies, Phlexy Vits may be a great option because they are free of milk and soy proteins, gluten and the sugars lactose, sucrose and fructose. There are no corn proteins in Phlexy Vits; however, certain nutrients are derived from corn so discuss this with your health care provider if your child is very sensitive to corn derivatives. Keep in mind that Phlexy Vits were developed for individuals over 11 years of age so do not use for younger children unless advised by your health care professional. The daily intake will have to be adjusted for a younger child.

For those of you with children on Neocate products, a multivitamin probably isn’t necessary. Neocate products are nutritionally-complete and were designed to meet all nutrient needs: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

- Mallory

Allergies and Asthma: What’s the Link?

Posted 6.3.10 | Mallory West

You may have noticed that allergies and asthma often go hand in hand. Roughly, 70% of children with asthma have some type of allergy[1]. So do allergies cause asthma? Or does asthma cause allergies? The answer to both questions is no; one does not cause the other but the two conditions do have a strong connection.

Inflammation & Your Immune System

Allergies and asthma are both inflammatory conditions caused by dysfunction of the immune system. Sometimes they are referred to as “atopic diseases”. The immune system is the body’s defense to foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, pathogens, fungi, etc. When the immune system detects these foreign invaders, it releases cells that seek out and destroy them. Inflammation is one of the first responses of the immune system to infection. Usually, the immune system keeps us healthy; however, a malfunctioning immune system can lead to illness. This is what happens with allergies and asthma.

Asthma vs. Allergies

With allergies, the immune system is hyperactive and produces an unnecessary inflammatory response to a traditionally harmless substance (such as a food protein). Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by episodes of inflammation and narrowing of the airway in response to certain "triggers." These triggers vary from patient to patient and may include infectious agents, exercise, stress, pollutants such as cigarette smoke, and common allergens such as cat dander, dust mites, and pollen.

Is there a link?

There are approximately 9 million kids in the US who have asthma[2]. Of this 9 million, about ¾ have asthma that is triggered by allergies. Remember, we talked about different triggers for asthma symptoms (exercise, pollen, allergens, etc.). Patients whose asthma is triggered by allergens are often said to have “allergic asthma”. [3] According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, affecting around half of asthma patients.

Does Genetics Play a Role?

Atopy refers to the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases, such as eczema, allergies and asthma[4]. Someone with “atopy” produces certain antibodies associated with allergic disease. Genetics and environmental factors both contribute to whether a patient does or doesn’t develop atopic diseases. Not all people with atopy (that genetic predisposition) go on to develop allergic diseases because environmental factors play a role too; However, they are significantly more likely to. Likewise, not all people with atopic disease have atopy (but most do).

Genetics obviously plays a big role in the development of allergic diseases. If one parent has an atopic condition, their child has a 1 in 4 chance of having some form of atopic disease (not necessarily the same one as the parent)[5]. If both parents have an atopic condition, the child is more than 50% likely to develop an atopic disease.

Hopefully, this information gives you a better understanding of why asthma and allergies are so often seen together. While neither one causes the other, some people have a genetic predisposition which puts them at a greater risk for developing all forms of allergic disease (such as allergy, eczema and asthma). So if you have one allergic disease, you have a higher risk for developing other types of allergic conditions in comparison to the general population.

Have you found this to be true with your little ones? Be sure to share your experiences with us in the comments!

- Mallory

[1] World Health Organization. Global surveillance, prevention and control of chronic respiratory disease: a comprehensive approach, 2007.
The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®© 1995- 2010.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Atopic Diseases in Childhood. Gold MS and Kemp AS. MJA 2005; 182 (6):298-304. [5] The National Eczema Association.

The News Is Still Nuts About Allergies

Posted 1.8.09 | Nutrition Specialist

It’s a new year and it seems not much has changed in the news department — it’s still all about allergies! I just came across an article in Time magazine on allergies and Americans.

The article, called “Have Americans Gone Nuts Over Nut Allergies?” is very similar to the article from the US News & World Report that I blogged about a few weeks ago. This article is a bit different, however, because it covers both sides of the allergy argument: doctors that feel people are too worried about allergies and parents who feel there is never enough attention paid to allergies.

To read the entire article, click here. T

he way I look at it is the more articles that are written about allergies, the more people that are aware of them. And that is always a good thing!

Have you read any interesting allergy news articles lately?

- Nita

Allergies & Genetics

Posted 11.15.11 | Mallory West

Parents often ask us if their second child has an increased risk of allergies if their older sibling has them.  So, in today’s post, we’ll discuss the genetics of allergies.

The exact cause of allergies is unknown, but researchers suspect that they are most likely caused by a combination of both genetics and environmental factors.

Genetic Factors:

Atopy” is a term used to describe the genetic predisposition to develop allergies or allergic diseases.  Allergies and allergic disease may include eczema, asthma, food allergies, etc.  

Studies show that if one parent is “atopic”, at least 30% of their children will have allergies[i]. If both parents are atopic, this value goes up to 50%.  Although a familial history of allergy puts you at an increased risk of developing allergy, you will not necessarily develop the same type of allergy or allergic disease as your family member[ii].  Atopy describes a predisposition for allergic disease in general.  The presentation and type of allergic disease may vary from family member to family member (for example, a parent has an allergy to pet dander and their child has an allergy to milk protein).

Environmental Factors:

Not all individuals with a genetic predisposition for allergies will go on to develop them because the environment plays an important role too.  It is difficult to know how much is determined by genetics and how much is determined by environmental factors because family members are often exposed to the same environmental factors.  Research on identical twins raised in different environments has shown that there is some discrepancy in the development of allergies despite a shared genetic predisposition.  This suggests that although there is a strong genetic component, environmental exposure is quite influential as well[iii].

What can you do?

You cannot modify a genetic predisposition for developing allergies (at least not yet!), you can alter the environmental exposures, which influence the development of allergies.  External environmental factors like smog, car exhaust, pollen, etc are difficult to alter unless you move to a different location. However, it is possible to reduce the indoor environmental  factors in your home. Whether or not this is effective in preventing allergies in those predisposed to them is still unclear but it certainly couldn’t hurt.  There is also a great deal of interest in whether dietary modifications, both for the mother during pregnancy and for the infants during the first year or life, can protect infants predisposed to developing allergic disease.  At this point, there is not enough  evidence to make a strong recommendation on preventive practices. However, research shows that introducing foods (anything other than breast milk or formula) during the first 4 months of life is associated with the development of allergies so refraining from this is one more way you may be able to protect your little one from developing allergies.




[i]Marshall GD. Internal and external environmental influences in allergic diseases . J Am Osteopath Assoc.2004 May;104(5 Suppl 5):S1-6.

[ii]The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®© 1995- 2010.

[iii]Los H, Postmus PE, Boomsma DI. Asthma genetics and intermediate phenotypes: a review from twin studies. Twin Res. 2001;4:81-93.


Do Hypoallergenic Pet Breeds Exist?

Posted 11.15.12 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Group of different dog breeds
When it comes to allergies, many Neocate families have to deal with environmental allergies as well as food allergies. Even among folks who don’t have food allergies, environmental allergies are pretty common. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 Americans are allergic to dogs! But have you ever wondered whether any of the breeds of dog that are labeled as “hypoallergenic” really are? Read on to learn more!

Pet Allergen

Most of us guess that a hairless pet, such as the comical Chinese crested dog or the Sphynx cat, would be a safe bet for people with allergies. This is because we naturally figure that people who are allergic to pets are reacting to a pet’s hair, but we would be wrong. As with all true allergies, a pet allergy is really a protein allergy. The allergy is actually to the protein in pets’ skin, or dander. Dander is those tiny scales of skin cells that pets shed naturally. So if hairless breeds also shed skin cells, are there really any breeds of pet that are truly hypoallergenic?

New Research

A study that was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reviewed a lot of interesting information related to dog breeds. For instance, some people with pet allergies say that certain breeds trigger their allergic symptoms less or more than other breeds. Breeders took to calling these dogs “hypoallergenic,” often claiming that they shed less than other breeds. Of note, where Neocate formulas have to undergo clinical trials to support the hypoallergenic claim, dog breeds do not have to undergo similar research!

The authors begin their article by explaining that very little research has been done to date into hypoallergenic dog breeds, with conflicting results. Even within one breed, some dogs produce much higher amounts of allergens than other dogs. And the main reason the scientists conducted this research was that no evidence for any dog breed being hypoallergenic had ever been reported.

The researchers compared the levels of a major dog allergen in the hair and coat of both normal dog breeds (like Labrador retrievers) and breeds marketed as hypoallergenic, including Labradoodles and Poodles. They also looked at the levels of the allergen in the homes of the same dogs, both in settled dust and floating in the air.

The Results

Surprisingly, the researchers actually found the allergen levels were much higher in the hair and coats of the hypoallergenic breeds! Interestingly, they found bigger differences between dogs of the same breed than when they compared one breed to another. When they looked at settled dust, the levels of allergens from Labradoodles were lower than other breeds. However, when they looked at allergen levels in the air, there was no difference between breeds. This is probably the most meaningful result since allergen levels in the air we breathe matter more than levels in the dust on the floor or within dogs’ fur. You can find the full results and complete study here.

The researchers conclude that “No evidence was found for a reduced production of allergen by hypoallergenic dogs.” They also found no evidence of lower allergens in the coats or the home. This supports the position the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) has taken that there is no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic pet breed. AAAAI suggests that some allergic folks may do better with one breed over another, and provides some tips in this helpful fact sheet about pet allergies.

Do you or any members of your family have pet allergies that seem better around some pet breeds than others?

- Rob



Water + Fruits + Vegetables = Allergies?

Posted 1.10.13 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Most Neocate families pose the same question: Why is my child allergic to foods? Or another question common in food allergy circles: Why are more and more people being diagnosed with food allergies? There are many factors that contribute to food allergies, and no single cause can be identified that applies to everyone. But some new research has addressed one of these factors in detail, and it points to several sources, one of which may come as a surprise: tap water.

Microbes, Pesticides, and Allergies

If you’ve taken your child to see an allergist, you may have heard several theories about allergies. The simple version of one theory is that children today spend less time in the dirt, so get less exposure to the environment, and therefore are more likely they are to develop allergies. Or at least that’s the general idea! Past research has also linked pesticides with allergies, but it wasn’t always clear whether it was the presence of pesticides or the absence of bugs (or both) that contributed to allergies.

New Research

Dr. Elina Jerschow is both a professor and a practicing physician in New York. She and several of her colleagues recently published new research into the association between certain chemicals and food allergies. These particular chemicals, termed dichlorophenols, are commonly used in pesticides and weed killers. They may also be present in tap water, either coming from the environment or as byproducts of chlorine compounds. Adding chlorine is one of the most effective ways to ensure that tap water does not contain harmful bacteria.

Dr. Jerschow and her colleagues pulled data on over 2,000 Americans from an ongoing, national collection of health and nutrition data. They specifically looked at levels of dichlorophenols in urine, and compared this to whether or not participants had allergies. The results showed that individuals with the highest urine dichlorophenol levels were almost twice as likely to have at least one food allergy. You can find a summary of the article by CBS here. The research was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in December and both a free summary and a link to the full research article, available for purchase, can be found here.


Sometimes we draw incorrect conclusions from research. In this case, we see that people with higher levels of dichlorophenols in their urine are more likely to have food allergies. This doesn’t prove that dichlorophenols cause food allergies, but it does suggest that people with higher exposure to these chemicals are more likely to have food allergies. It could be that dichlorophenols reduce numbers of bacteria in our gut, which may raise the risk of developing food allergies. No association was found between dichlorophenol exposure and environmental allergies.

Avoiding dichlorophenols may not prevent food allergies. However, some people may prefer to try to avoid exposing themselves to high levels of dichlorophenols and pesticides in general. To do so, key steps you can take would be to avoid fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides and to limit consumption of tap water, either straight from the tap or from bottled water that originated from a municipal water supply. If your family drinks tap water, you can let the water sit out, preferably refrigerated in a clean container, for several hours. This gives much of the chlorine in the water time to evaporate, though it may not reduce any dichlorophenols present. You can also use a filter that removes chlorine, but again, we don’t know if household water filters remove dichlorophenols.

Do you think that you or any members of your family may change your food or water habits because of this research?

- Rob


What causes childhood food allergies?

Posted 11.12.13 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

When it comes to food allergies, we all want to know what causes them. There is no single answer, and many factors can contribute to a child developing food allergies. Also, no one factor is guaranteed to cause an allergy. We recently came across a scientific journal article, in Pediatric Annals, that lays out the factors that can contribute to allergies. The article is Epidemiology of Childhood Food Allergy. No surprise: the article (written by scientists, for doctors) is fairly technical, but Neocate is here to help decipher it!

What the researchers looked at         

Ashley A. Dyer, MPH was the lead author, along with a colleague from the Center for Healthcare Studies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, Dr. Ruchi Gupta. The two briefly reviewed factors that can contribute to food allergy as well as symptoms, locations where food allergies are more prevalent, development of tolerance, the impacts food allergies can have, and where future research is focused.

What the publication discussed

While there was no “new” news in this article, it was a good summary of the current knowledge that researchers and scientists in the medical community are aware of. Here are the key points:

- Childhood food allergies are becoming more prevalent (more children are being diagnosed – also by Dr. Gupta)

- Of the top 8 allergens in the US, there seems to be a link between when they are usually introduced to a child’s diet and when allergy to that food is recognized (e.g. milk allergy tend to be diagnosed at younger ages than shellfish allergy)

- Food allergies may be more prevalent among certain minority groups (again, also by Dr. Gupta)

- Where children live can affect development of food allergies (they’re more common in the US and urban areas)

Looking for more factors? Risk for food allergies can also be inherited from parents! Another possible factor that researchers are looking into is whether living higher North, with less sun exposure, could correspond with food allergies (possibly because of lower vitamin D levels).

We’ll keep an eye out for more interesting food allergy-related research to let you know about!

- Rob


We’re having a baby - should we get a dog and move to a farm?

Posted 11.10.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Science is crazy. Sometimes we hear in the news about researchers looking at things that seem completely off-the-wall. On the other hand, a lot of scientists and researchers look at things that can have meaningful impacts on our lives. Sometimes, the research can even be practical for everyday folks like us.

Today, I’ll share some interesting research related to pets, the environment and allergic conditions. I find it interesting not just because I love science, but also because it can be helpful. Sure, I geek out over research sometimes, but when it’s practical research, everybody wins. The questions at hand: can owning pets or living on a farm actually provide a BENEFIT when it comes to allergic conditions?

The state of affairs

  1. Lots of people are allergic to pets. I have some friends who have allergies to cats, which range from mild (sneezing) to pretty bad (difficulty breathing). I have other friends who have allergies to dogs. I even know people who seem to be allergic to just about any animal with fur.
  2. Many children who have one allergic condition also have one or several other allergic conditions. For example, it’s not uncommon for an infant with a cow milk allergy to develop allergies to other foods. There are also children who have atopic dermatitis as well as asthma. Any number of combinations is possible, and allergies to animals are in the mix too.
  3. We used to think that avoiding things that we have the potential to become allergic to is the best way to prevent actually BECOMING allergic to that thing. For years parents were cautioned to avoid introducing peanut into their babies’ diets until they were several years old. (That advice has changed – but that’s a subject for another post!)

With all this in mind, it seemed logical that for a child with one allergic condition, it might be best to avoid things that might become a future allergen. Why not? If my child already has food allergies, then maybe they’re likely to also become allergic to animals, so why take the chance with a new pet?

But in science, a theory is just a theory. The scientists and researchers among us don’t assume these are facts. We should be grateful that, just because an idea is logical, our scientific friends are willing to test those theories to see if they hold up! When they test a theory they come up with a hypothesis – something they think will be true related to the theory, but that they want to test.

In fact, one theory that you may have heard of is the ‘Hygiene hypothesis.’ This is the idea that in western societies, like North America, our environments (home, school, work, the kitchen counter) are so clean – or hygienic – that our immune system doesn’t develop normally, and that may be contributing to the increases we’re seeing in allergic conditions. We’re beginning to realize that some exposure may be good, especially at key “windows” of time when exposure to something may help LESSEN the risk of later allergy.

The latest science on pets, farms, and allergies

With all that in mind, scientists have tested several hypotheses related to the environment an infant is raised in, such as growing up in a household with pets, and the effect it has on the likelihood of developing certain allergic conditions. We wrote on this topic last in 2013. As an update, here’s some of the latest research that’s been shared in the past few years:

  1. A recently published study found that infants who live in a house with a dog for their first year of life may be less likely to develop eczema and other allergies, depending on a few factors. Read a summary of the research here.
  2. Researchers in Sweden looked at data from their entire nation. They found that having a dog in the first year of an infant’s life was associated with a lower likelihood of asthma in children beyond 3-6 years old (but not younger). Growing up on a farm with animals was also associated with a lower likelihood of asthma through age 6. Read a summary of this research here.
  3. Maybe farms help? Researchers in Europe looked at a large group of children, comparing them based on how rural their environment was. The children who grew up closer to more forest and agricultural land were less likely to develop environmental allergies. They think the microbes in the environment can be key – read more here.

So what’s the catch?

Well, not everyone is able to pick up and move to a farm! Second, pet ownership is also a big decision. Those are obvious considerations.

Also, research is messy and often leads to more questions than answers. First, not all research that’s been conducted in this topic has come to the same conclusions – some of the results are contradictory. And sometimes you find something you don’t expect. For example, researchers in Finland found that growing up in a household with a dog or cat may be slightly more likely to lead to an allergy to that animal than growing up in a house without one.

With that in mind, the best thing to do may be to talk to your little one’s pediatrician and/or allergist to see what their take is on pets and allergic conditions. They often have a good understanding of the science, including how best to interpret the research, and can offer some guidance or at least help you make an informed decision.

One final note: keep in mind that there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed! You can certainly ask your allergist for more information, but don’t believe the hype if you see a breeder selling “hypoallergenic” dogs.


How do I come across such interesting topics? In my role as a Medical Advisor and Nutrition Specialist at Nutricia I get to attend major conferences, such as the annual meeting for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). I always discover some really interesting research there!

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, [] Viewed 6 May 2016

[6] Motala & Fiocchi, 2012, Cow’s milk allergy in children, World Allergy Organisation, [] Viewed 15 May 2016

About Us

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.