The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 May;110(5):370-4. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.02.016. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


Background: Milk is one of the most common food allergies in US children, yet little is known about its distribution and diagnosis.

Objective: To better understand current pediatric milk allergy distribution and diagnosis trends in the United States.

Methods: A randomized, cross-sectional survey was administered to parents belonging to a representative sample of US households with children from June 2009 to February 2010. Data from 38,480 parents regarding demographic characteristics, allergic symptoms associated with food ingestion, and methods used to diagnose food allergy were collected and analyzed as weighted proportions. Adjusted models were estimated to examine association of these aspects with odds of milk allergy.

Results: Of the 3,218 children identified with food allergy, 657 (19.9%) were reported to have milk allergy. Asian (odds ratio [OR], 0.5) and black (OR, 0.4) children were half as likely as white children to develop milk allergy. The highest percentage of milk-allergic children (23.8%) were aged 6 to 10 years, and the lowest percentage of milk-allergic children (15.0%) were aged 11 to 15 years. Nearly one-third (31.4%) of children with milk allergy had a history of severe reactions. Compared with children with other food allergies, children with milk allergy had a higher odds of having physician-diagnosed allergy (OR, 1.7) and were twice as likely (OR, 2.1) to outgrow their milk allergy.

Conclusion: Childhood milk allergy, which accounts for one-fifth of US food allergies, is less prevalent among Asian and black children than white children. Although less than half of children with milk allergy received confirmatory testing, it is the most commonly diagnosed food allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology