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Drink cow's milk while breastfeeding to reduce your child’s risk of food allergies

Experts also recommend breastfeeding the infants for the first six months to delay the risk of developing food allergies. © Shutterstock.

Both heredity and environmental factors are known to play a role in the development of food allergy. For example, a child with two allergic parents has higher risk of developing food allergies than someone with one allergic parent.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Published : March 31, 2021 5:36 PM IST

Food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food, which can cause your child to experience symptoms that range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. According to John Hopkins Medicine, nearly 5 percent of children under the age of five years suffer from food allergies. Milk, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, soy, and tree nuts are the foods which are common causes of food allergies. Among these, the most common causes of food allergies in children are eggs, milk and peanuts. While most childhood food allergies disappear over time, allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish may be lifelong noted the John Hopkins Medicine. Both heredity and environmental factors are known to play a role in the development of food allergy. For example, a child with two allergic parents has higher risk of developing food allergies than someone with one allergic parent. So, how can a newborn's risk of developing food allergies be reduced? Drinking cow's milk while breastfeeding may help, said researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

In a study, the researchers found that children of mothers who drank relatively more cow's milk during breastfeeding were at reduced risk of developing food allergies. For the study, they surveyed more than 500 Swedish women who gave detailed accounts of their eating habits and the prevalence of allergies in their children at one year of age. The results of their study were published in the scientific journal Nutrients in December 2020.

Cow's milk and food allergy risk: The connection explained

According to the researchers, cow milk contains substances that stimulate the maturity of the child's immune system and help develop tolerance to different foods. Early contact with various microorganisms can function as something of a kickstart' for a child's immune system - they said in their paper carried by ScienceDaily.

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However, Mia Str vik, doctoral student in the Division of Food Science at Chalmers University of Technology, and first author of the study, noted that this finding does not indicate that drinking cow's milk would be a cure for food allergies.

Nowadays, many young women avoid drinking milk, either due to prevailing diet trends or concerns linked to myths. Commenting on this, Mia Str vik said that allergy to milk protein is uncommon in adults, and it is safe for most women to consume milk and dairy products. If you have lactose intolerance (the body cannot break down milk sugars), you can choose lactose-free dairy products, which are tolerated by the body she added.

Watch out for the symptoms of food allergy in children

Food allergies can result in symptoms like mild skin rashes, hives, itching in the mouth, asthma, trouble breathing, stomach pains, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea. A food allergy can also lead to potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The symptoms may begin within minutes to an hour after ingesting the food. But the symptoms may be different for each child.

Experts also recommend breastfeeding the infants for the first six months and to avoid giving solid foods until your child is 6 months of age or older to delay the risk of developing food allergies.

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