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Cow's milk wards off allergies

29th June 2010

Children who taste cow's milk during the first two weeks of life are often able to protect themselves from developing possibly fatal allergies later on, according to a recent Israeli study.

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The researchers found that children's risk of developing cow's milk protein allergy, which is the most dangerous and common among dairy allergies, depended mainly upon their exposure to cow's milk.

Lead researcher Yitzhak Katz of Tel Aviv University said that, while parents should not leave off breastfeeding, they should learn to complement breastfeeding with cow's milk at an early stage.

He said that fathers should feed their newborns cow's milk if the children were hungry in the middle of the night.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers wanted to try and calculate how many children were affected by both soy and cow's protein allergies.

The researchers studied 13,000 children, and found that only 66 of them (0.5%) had the possibly fatal allergies to milk.

In populations as a whole, the prevalence of cow's milk allergy tends to range up to 3%.

Babies who were not exposed to cow's milk until they were fully 15 days old had 19 times the risk of developing the potentially fatal allergies, compared to babies who were exposed early.

Kari Nadeau, of Stanford University in California, who was not involved in the study, said that some paediatricians had discouraged parents from feeding their babies cow's milk until they reached a certain age.

She said that she believed it was important for researchers to pinpoint the best time for babies to take cow's milk, for the purposes of developing a healthy immune system.

The researchers did not find any link between cow's milk allergies and allergies to soy, meaning that babies who have cow's milk allergies can benefit from soy-based formula.

After the researchers had concluded the first part of their study, they found that babies fed cow's milk early on had a dramatically reduced risk of developing cow's protein allergy.

Nadeau said that, if parents noticed their babies developing rashes or vomiting food, they should take the babies to an allergist immediately.

 

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