Milk is one of the most common allergens that affect children in the U.S. While up to 8 percent of children have food allergies, only 3 to 4 percent of adults do. This means that some kids outgrow their allergies. The likelihood of doing so depends on the allergen. Between 60 and 80 percent of children with a milk allergy will outgrow it by the time they are teenagers. Research has found that baked milk could speed up that process and help kids outgrow the allergy earlier.
Baked Milk Study
A study supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that eating baked milk can help children outgrow a milk allergy more quickly than they would otherwise. The idea behind the strategy is that baking denatures, or destroys, the proteins in the milk that cause an allergic reaction.
In this study, the researchers enlisted 88 children who were all diagnosed with a milk allergy. The children were studied over four or five years. The study began with each child being given a muffin made with baked milk. Sixty-five of the children were able to eat it without having a reaction. For the next year, those children continued to eat foods with baked milk.
After one year the children were tested in the lab with pizza to test their ability to eat baked cheese. Fifty-seven of the children passed this test. These children went on to eat both baked milk and baked cheese over the next three years. After this period, the children were given milk, yogurt or ice cream, made with non-baked milk. The overall result was that after about four years, 60 percent of the children from the original 88 were able to eat milk without having a reaction. They had outgrown their milk allergy and did so faster than a control group.
What is Baked Milk?
The results of this study are important because it shows that controlled consumption of baked milk can speed up the process of growing out of this potentially life-threatening allergy. The researchers do not suggest that parents try this at home, but that children with milk allergies should go to their doctors for a baked milk test. If they pass, the doctor may give the go-ahead for a baked milk diet.
But what exactly is baked milk? It is simply milk that has been heated long enough and thoroughly enough to damage the proteins in it. This can be accomplished by simmering milk for a period of time or by adding milk to a food to be baked, like a muffin. In the latter case, the guideline is that there can be no more than one-sixth of a cup of milk per serving. A baked good that uses one cup of milk and produces six servings, for instance, is acceptable. But remember not to try this with your child until he or she has passed a baked milk challenge at the doctor’s office.
The fact that baked milk can accelerate tolerance of milk is important because it means children can leave this allergy behind sooner. But it also means that children may be able to add baked milk to their diets, which can improve nutrition and overall quality of life. More research may find that other allergens can be treated similarly to make them more tolerable.