What are food allergies?
Before we dive into details, let's review what is a food allergy. Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system identifies a food as a harmful substance. When the body recognizes anything harmful it will produce antibodies, which are like small soldiers that protect our body’s health. When the body produces antibodies directed against a certain type of food, it causes an immune response. This then releases histamine and other chemicals that trigger allergic symptoms.
Generally, it is the protein in foods that cause an allergic reaction. Food allergy symptoms may occur right after consuming the allergen or even hours later. These symptoms may affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system or the skin.
What is a severe food allergy?
In cases of severe allergic reactions there may be a drop in blood pressure or loss of consciousness. Some people have food allergies so severe that they are at risk for life threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a rapid series of serious allergic reactions that affect a number of different areas of the body at once.
Who is Affected by Cow Milk Allergy?
Cow milk allergy is the most common food allergy in infancy and in the first few years of life. About 2-3 of every 100 infants in the United States is diagnosed with a cow milk allergy. Cow milk allergy typically begins in early childhood and is less common in older children and adults.
Cow milk allergy that starts in infancy can last into childhood, persisting even into early teenage years. Approximately 1 million infants and children under 18 in the US have a cow milk allergy.