6. Milk Protein Allergy

  1. Young W. Park Ph.D. Professor of Food Science3,4 and
  2. George F.W. Haenlein D.Sci.Ag., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus5
  1. Melanie L. Downs*,
  2. Jamie L. Kabourek*,
  3. Joseph L. Baumert* and
  4. Steve L. Taylor*

Published Online: 11 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118534168.ch6

Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health

Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health

How to Cite

Downs, M. L., Kabourek, J. L., Baumert, J. L. and Taylor, S. L. (2013) Milk Protein Allergy, in Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health (eds Y. W. Park and G. F.W. Haenlein), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118534168.ch6

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia, USA

  2. 4

    Adjunct Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

  3. 5

    Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

Author Information

  1. Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

*Email: staylor2@unl.edu

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 3 JUN 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470674185

Online ISBN: 9781118534168



  • milk;
  • allergy;
  • IgE-mediated;
  • avoidance diet;
  • prevention;
  • prevalence


Milk is an important food in the human diet throughout life but especially in early childhood. While most consumers thrive on ingestion of milk, some individuals will experience adverse reactions. The most serious of these adverse reactions is milk allergy. Milk allergy can take several forms including immediate hypersensitivity and delayed hypersensitivity reactions. The delayed hypersensitivity reactions primarily involve infants and children and are often outgrown; these reactions also mostly involve gastrointestinal symptoms. IgE-mediated immediate hypersensitivity reactions to milk are the most well studied of the various allergic reactions to milk. IgE-mediated milk allergy also occurs primarily in infants and young children but persists in some individuals into adulthood. This form of milk allergy involves sensitization (development of allergen-specific IgE antibodies) to one or more of the milk proteins. The major milk allergens are casein, β-lactoglobulin and α-lactalbumin. The avoidance of milk in the diet is key to the prevention of allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. However, new immunotherapy approaches involving oral exposure to very small amounts of milk are offering some promise of a potential way to cure milk allergy although more research is needed. Milk from other animal species is generally not tolerated by individuals with cow milk allergy, although isolated cases have been described where milk from another species is tolerated. Over time, many milk-allergic individuals become increasingly tolerant to oral ingestion of milk. These individuals are known to tolerate baked foods containing milk before tolerating pasteurized fluid milk. However, this phenomenon is only experienced by a subset of the milk-allergic population.