Cashew and cow’s milk allergy rates uncovered among Australian infants

Sunday, August 6, 2023 - 8:00 AM

Dr Victoria Soriano and Dr Tim BrettigMelbourne researchers can reveal for the first time how many babies have cashew and cow’s milk allergies in Australia as well as what causes these common allergic diseases.

Two new studies published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology: In Practice, led by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, showed 1.4 per cent of 12 month old’s have cashew allergy and 1.3 per cent a cow’s milk allergy. By comparison, previous research found 3.1 per cent of infants have a diagnosed peanut allergy.

Both studies involved 1933 participants from the EarlyNuts Study, which looked at the prevalence of these allergies in infants and common risk factors.

Murdoch Children’s Dr Tim Brettig, who led the cashew allergy research, said this was the first time the rate of cashew allergy and cow’s milk allergy in Australian infants had been determined with gold standard oral food challenges.

“Like most food allergies, cashew allergy is thought to develop early in life and cashew is reported to be the most common cause of tree nut allergy in Australia,” the NACE Food Allergy Stream member said.

Dr Brettig’s research found eczema and peanut allergy were linked to having a cashew allergy. While Murdoch Children's Dr Victoria Soriano identified infants who have eczema, a family history of food allergy and parents born in East Asia were more likely to develop cow’s milk allergy.

“We know cow’s milk allergy and cashew allergy are among the most common food allergies in infants and young children, with prevalence estimates varying between countries,” Dr Soriano said. However, there were no recent data on the prevalence of proven milk and cashew allergy in Australia making these findings important for future research into how we might be able to prevent them.”

Read more at Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

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