Eliminating cows' milk, but not wheat, barley or rye, increases the risk of growth deceleration and nutritional inadequacies

Acta Paediatr. 2017 Jul;106(7):1142-1149. doi: 10.1111/apa.13846. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


Aim: Our study examined the growth and nutritional intake of children on milk and/or wheat, barley or rye elimination diets.

Methods: This was a nested case-control study within the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study. It investigated 295 children born in the Tampere University Hospital area between 1997 and 2004 on a diet without cows' milk and/or wheat, barley or rye due to food allergies and 265 matched controls. Nutritional intake was recorded with three-day food records at the ages of one, two and three years. Serial growth measurements were recorded annually up to the age of five years.

Results: Despite consuming a balanced diet with sufficient energy and protein, the children on milk elimination diets grew slower than the control children (p = 0.009). Wheat, barley or rye elimination was not associated with growth. The intakes of protein and calcium were lower in children in the milk elimination group than the controls, at p < 0.05 for all. However, children on elimination diets consumed less saturated fats and sugar and more vitamin C and iron than the control children.

Conclusion: Children on elimination diets faced an increased risk of growth deceleration and suboptimal intake of several micronutrients.

Keywords: Children; Elimination diet; Food allergies; Growth; Nutritional intake.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diet therapy*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Wheat Hypersensitivity / diet therapy*