There are 8 allergens that cause >95% of food allergy in Australia (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish).
A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts negatively to the proteins in a food that is usually harmless to people who do not have an allergy to that food.
For people with a food allergy, exposure to the protein in the food causes the immune system to see these proteins as foreign, and in an effort to protect itself, the body releases natural substances, such as histamines, which cause the allergic symptoms that your child might be experiencing. These symptoms can appear immediately i.e. within minutes of ingesting the food, or after several hours or days depending on the type of immune reaction.
Food allergy occurs in around 1 in 20 children and in about 2 in 100 adults1. There are 8 allergens that cause >95% of food allergy in Australia (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish). The majority of food allergies in children are not severe, and may be 'outgrown' with time but some food allergies can be severe, causing life-threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis.
Of all the infant food allergies, cow’s milk protein allergy is one of the most common, particularly in Australia and New Zealand where around 2% of infants are allergic2. Nearly half of the children affected by cow’s milk protein allergy grow out of it at 1 year, 60-75% outgrow it at 2 years and 85-90% at 3 years3. Food allergies such as cow’s milk protein allergy can affect anyone, however those babies with a family history of allergy are at higher risk4. If breastfed, the reaction is to the cow’s milk protein passed from the mother through the breastmilk, and if formula-fed, the reaction is to the milk protein in the formula.
It is important for infants with cow’s milk protein to not start a cow’s milk protein free diet without recommendation and guidance from a healthcare professional. After parents, have spoken to their healthcare professional and removed cow’s milk from their infants diet (either through removing cow’s milk from the mother’s diet if breastfeeding or started on a specialised formula if the infant is formula fed), the baby’s symptoms should normally ease within 2-4 weeks3.
1.ASCIA (2016) Food allergy, Retrieved 18th April 2016 from http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/food-allergy
2.ASCIA (2016) Cow’smilk (dairy) allergy. Retrieved 18th April 2016 from http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/cows-milk-dairy-allergy
3.Koletzko S et al. Diagnostic approach and management of cow's-milk protein allergy in infants and children: ESPGHAN GI Committee practical guidelines. J PediatrGastroenterol Nutr. 2012;55(2):221-9).
4.ASCIA (2016) Guidelines for allergy prevention in infants. Retrieved 18th April 2016 from http://www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/media/647-mar-14-2016-updated-infant-feeding-advice-and-guidelines-for-allergy-prevention-in-infants