Reproducibility of food challenge to cow's milk: Systematic review with individual participant data meta-analysis

Paul J. Turner, Nandinee Patel, Dianne E. Campbell, Hugh A. Sampson, Mayu Maeda, Toshio Katsunuma, Joost Westerhout, W. Marty Blom, Joseph L. Baumert, Geert F. Houben, Benjamin C. Remington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Cow's milk (CM) is an increasingly common cause of severe allergic reactions, but there is uncertainty with respect to severity of reactions at low-level CM exposure, as well as the reproducibility of reaction thresholds. Objective: We undertook an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis of studies reporting double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges in CM to determine the rate of anaphylaxis to low-level exposures and the reproducibility of reaction thresholds. Methods: We performed a systematic review and IPD meta-analysis of studies reporting relevant data. Authors were contacted to provide additional data and/or clarification as needed. Risk of bias was assessed using the National Institute for Clinical Excellence methodologic checklists. Results: Thirty-four studies were included, representing data from over 1000 participants. The cumulative ED01 and ED05 (cumulative doses causing objective symptoms in 1% and 5% of the at-risk allergic population) were 0.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2-0.5) and 2.9 (95% CI, 1.6-5.4) mg, respectively. At meta-analysis, 4.8% (95% CI, 2.0-10.9) and 4.8% (95% CI, 0.7-27.1) of individuals reacting to ≤5 mg and ≤0.5 mg of CM protein had anaphylaxis (minimal heterogeneity, I2 = 0%). Then 110 individuals underwent repeat double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges; the intraindividual variation in reaction threshold was limited to a ½-log change in 80% (95% CI, 65-89) of participants. Two individuals initially tolerated 5 mg CM protein but then reacted to this dose at a subsequent challenge, although neither had anaphylaxis. Conclusions: About 5% of CM-allergic individuals reacting to ED01 or ED05 exposure might have anaphylaxis to that dose. This equates to 5 and 24 anaphylaxis events per 10,000 patients exposed to an ED01 or ED05 dose, respectively, in the broader CM-allergic population. Most of these anaphylactic reactions would be mild and respond to a single dose of epinephrine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1143.e8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Allergy
  • anaphylaxis
  • cow's milk
  • eliciting dose
  • food challenge
  • precautionary allergen labeling
  • thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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