innovative treatments in cow’s milk allergy

Innovative treatments in cow’s milk allergy is the last in this 5-part blog series on Cow’s Milk Allergy in Infancy and is best read following positive outcomes for cows milk allergy.

Infants who develop Cows Milk Allergy (CMA) usually outgrow it before they start school. Until recently, dietary treatment was based on strict cow’s milk avoidance for long periods; typically 1-2 years. Introduction is now advised at an earlier age, especially for those with delayed reactions affecting the gut. Starting with tiny amounts of baked milk as early at 9 months, identifies those infants who are ready to start building tolerance. It is now believed that strict avoidance for long periods is unhelpful in promoting tolerance.¹ Infants with more severe (IgE) reactions do take longer to outgrow their allergy, and care needs to be taken to make introductions safely for those infants.

Active Allergy Management
Active Allergy Management is one of today’s most innovative treatments in cow’s milk allergy. It can be described as the deliberate, early introduction of tiny amounts of milk proteins in a controlled way. Effective and safe for the majority of infants with CMA, the timing of this introduction depends upon age and the type and severity of previous reactions. See my blog identifying symptoms of cow’s milk allergy for more information. Tolerance to baked milk is now used as a marker of readiness for the next steps of cows milk reintroduction.²  This step-wise approach is known as the Milk Ladder, the earliest introduction of which can begin for non-IgE CMA around 9 months. Actively exposing an infant and educating the immune system in this way, enables young children to eat a normal diet at any earlier age.

The Infant Microbiota
The infant microbiota describes the total number of microbes living in an infants gut. Recent research shows earlier tolerance to cow’s milk using CMA treatment formulas with the added probiotic microbe strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Bifidobacteria breve . Other treatment formulas with added prebiotic co-factors (specialised sugars called oligosaccharides) may also be helpful, by providing food for these beneficial microbes. Breast feeding is known to be protective for food allergy. Although the mechanisms are not entirely understood, the higher numbers of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria which dominate the microbiota of breast fed babies are likely to be involved. Intimately involved with educating the immune system, the infant microbiota has a key role to play in allergy development and management.  Specialised formulas are now available (on GP prescription) which mimic the breast milk provision of those beneficial microbe species alongside prebiotic co-factors that help colonise the infant microbiota, with earlier resolution for children with Cow’s Milk Allergy.

  1.  Dietary baked milk accelerates the resolution of cow’s milk allergy in children, Kim JS et al 2011
  2. Tolerance to baked and fermented cow’s milk in children with IgE mediated and non IgE mediated CMA in patients under 2 years, Uncuoglu A et al, 2017

Next An introduction to the Infant Microbiome