Milk Protein Allergy

Melanie L. Downs, Jamie L. Kabourek, Joseph L. Baumert, Steve L. Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Milk is an important food in the human diet throughout life but especially in early childhood. While most consumers thrive on ingestion of milk, some individuals will experience adverse reactions. The most serious of these adverse reactions is milk allergy. Milk allergy can take several forms including immediate hypersensitivity and delayed hypersensitivity reactions. The delayed hypersensitivity reactions primarily involve infants and children and are often outgrown; these reactions also mostly involve gastrointestinal symptoms. IgE-mediated immediate hypersensitivity reactions to milk are the most well studied of the various allergic reactions to milk. IgE-mediated milk allergy also occurs primarily in infants and young children but persists in some individuals into adulthood. This form of milk allergy involves sensitization (development of allergen-specific IgE antibodies) to one or more of the milk proteins. The major milk allergens are casein, β-lactoglobulin and α-lactalbumin. The avoidance of milk in the diet is key to the prevention of allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. However, new immunotherapy approaches involving oral exposure to very small amounts of milk are offering some promise of a potential way to cure milk allergy although more research is needed. Milk from other animal species is generally not tolerated by individuals with cow milk allergy, although isolated cases have been described where milk from another species is tolerated. Over time, many milk-allergic individuals become increasingly tolerant to oral ingestion of milk. These individuals are known to tolerate baked foods containing milk before tolerating pasteurized fluid milk. However, this phenomenon is only experienced by a subset of the milk-allergic population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMilk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition
Subtitle of host publicationProduction, Composition and Health
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780470674185
StatePublished - Apr 11 2013


  • Allergy
  • Avoidance diet
  • IgE-mediated
  • Milk
  • Prevalence
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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