Manifestations of milk allergy in infancy: clinical and immunologic findings

J Pediatr. 1986 Aug;109(2):270-6. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(86)80384-5.


In a study of the manifestations of cow milk allergy in 100 young children (mean age 16 months), 30 items of historical data and information relating to the effects of a standardized milk challenge were entered into a computer data base. Three clusters of patients were derived using a K-means algorithm. In group 1 were 27 patients with predominantly urticarial and angioedematous eruptions, which developed within 45 minutes of ingesting cow milk. They had positive skin test reactions to milk and elevated total and milk specific IgE serum antibody levels. In group 2, 53 patients had pallor, vomiting, or diarrhea between 45 minutes and 20 hours after milk ingestion. These children were relatively IgA deficient. The 20 patients in group 3 had eczematous or bronchitic or diarrheal symptoms; in 17 symptoms developed more than 20 hours after commencing milk ingestion. Of the patients in group 3, only those with eczema had a positive skin test reaction and elevated IgE antibodies to milk. The patients in group 3 were the most difficult to identify clinically; they had a history of chronic ill health, and symptoms developed many hours or days after commencing milk ingestion in the challenge situation. In view of the heterogeneous clinical and immunologic findings in our patients, it is unlikely that a single laboratory test will identify cow milk allergy in all susceptible patients.

MeSH terms

  • Angioedema / immunology
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / immunology
  • Dysgammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Eczema / immunology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • IgA Deficiency
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk / adverse effects*
  • Milk Proteins / immunology
  • Radioallergosorbent Test
  • Skin Tests
  • Time Factors
  • Urticaria / immunology
  • Vomiting / immunology


  • Milk Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E