According to newly published research, babies who have been diagnosed with allergies to milk or egg experience a high number of reactions during their first three years of life.

The observational study found that the infants experienced high rates of both accidental and nonaccidental exposure to allergens.

The researchers set out to determine “The frequency and circumstances of allergic reactions to foods, and treatment responses, in a prospective study of infants and preschool-aged children with likely egg or milk allergies.” The study involved 512 infants with allergies to milk or egg.

Allergic Reactions Reported

Within three years, there was a total of 1171 allergic reactions reported in 367 infants, or more than 70% of participants. More than half reported more than one reaction during the study period. Of these reactions, 834 were believed to have been caused by milk, egg, or peanuts. 87 percent were classified as accidental, and included unintentional consumption, label reading errors, and cross-contamination.

There were also 93 nonaccidental exposures, which included reactions to foods the babies had previously been able to eat without reaction. The researchers, led by David Fleischer of National Jewish Health in Denver, suspect that some of these nonaccidental reactions may be caused by parents testing to see whether their child has outgrown an allergy.

11.4% of reactions were considered severe. Just 30% of these were treated with epinephrine. In other cases, the severity of the reaction was not recognized, epinephrine was not available, or adults caring for the child had fears about administering the medication.

The researchers concluded:

“Areas for improved education include the need for constant vigilance, accurate label reading, avoidance of nonaccidental exposure, prevention of cross-contamination, appropriate epinephrine administration, and education of all caretakers.”

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