Gastroesophageal reflux and cow's milk allergy in infants: a prospective study

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1996 Mar;97(3):822-7. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(96)80160-6.


Background: Recent reports have suggested that gastroesophageal reflux in pediatric patients may be caused by food allergy.

Objective: The aim of our study was to determine the frequency of the association of gastroesophageal reflux with cow's milk protein allergy in patients win the first year of life.

Methods: We studied 204 consecutive patients (median age, 6.3 months) who had been diagnosed as having gastroesophageal reflux on the basis of 24-hour continuous pH monitoring and histologic examination of the esophageal mucosa.

Results: Clinical history suggested diagnosis of cow's milk allergy in 19 infants, and 93 others had positive test results (serum IgE anti-lactoglobulin, prick tests, circulating or fecal or nasal mucus eosinophils) but did not have symptoms indicating cow's milk allergy. The cow's milk-free diet and two successive blind challenges confirmed the diagnosis of cow's milk allergy in 85 of the 204 patients with gastroesophageal reflux. The clinical presentations of the infants with gastroesophageal reflux alone were different, in view of the greater frequency of diarrhea (p less than 0.0001) and atopic dermatitis (p less than 0.0002). In all, gastroesophageal reflux was associated with, and probably caused by cow's milk allergy, in 85 of 204 cases (41.8%).

Conclusions: Considering the frequency of this association, patients younger than 12 months old with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux should be carefully examined to determine whether this disorder is primary or caused by cow's milk allergy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Monitoring, Immunologic
  • Prospective Studies