When to Trial Milk?

Posted 9.29.10 | Sarah O'Brien

If you have a child with a milk protein allergy, you’ve probably wondered if they will ever outgrow it. There is a chance your child will eventually develop a tolerance to milk and outgrow their allergy, although it is less likely than previously thought. A study conducted at Johns Hopkins University in 2007 showed that 19% of children outgrew their milk allergy by age 4, 42% had outgrown it by age 8, and 79% were milk allergy-free by age 16.

So how can you tell if your child is no longer allergic to dairy products?

Conducting a Milk Trial

Often your pediatrician or allergist may suggest a milk trial to test their tolerance once your child is over 12 months old and hasn’t had any diary in their diet for at least 6 months. A milk trial typically consists of giving your child a small about of dairy, often starting with products like yogurt or cheese which can be tolerated better than cow’s milk. If your child does not experience any adverse reactions (such as diarrhea, vomiting or gassiness) then you can continue to give increasing amounts of dairy products, slowly working up to 100% cow’s milk.

Milk Trial Precautions

It is important to remember that if your child originally had a severe reaction to milk, such as anaphylaxis, then you should have the milk trial conducted under medical supervision. Do not try re-introducing milk at home! Even if your child had a less severe reaction it is always important to get the go-ahead from your doctor ahead of time, just to be on the safe side.

Failing a Milk Trial

If your child is not able to tolerate the dairy you introduce in the milk trial, this simply means you will need to continue eliminating it from their diet. Your doctor may want to try again with another milk trial in 6–12 months. In the meantime, it is important to make sure that they are getting all of the nutrients they need. One option is to switch them to an elemental toddler formula, like Neocate Junior, which is specially formulated to be nutritionally complete for children 12 months and older with food allergies and related GI conditions.

Have you tried a milk trial with any of your little ones with milk protein allergies? How did they go?

- Sarah

Read Comments (2)

  • 2012-08-11 | Kelly

    We trialed milk at age 5 after negative skin and blood allergy tests in the hospital since our daughter had a previous anaphylaxis- even with negative test results, she went into a second anaphylaxis during the food challenge. PLEASE NEVER ATTEMPT A TRIAL AT HOME- it can be so dangerous.  Now 8, my daughter tests positive again on skin tests, so no challenge is in sight currently. BE CAREFUL PLEASE!

  • 2012-08-21 | Rob McCandlish

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Kelly. Many parents don’t realize that allergy tests aren’t always accurate and often can’t predict actual responses. We’re glad you shared your story with other parents. It really reinforces how important it is to follow your healthcare team’s guidance, because there’s always a chance of a severe allergic reaction that must be handled by a skilled team in a clinical setting.

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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.