The last time my son had a sip of milk he couldn’t breathe. So I’m sat here watching and waiting, nervously asking him if he’s OK every 30 seconds as I’ve just fed him cow’s milk. We have slowly climbed to the top of the milk ladder and this is his final step to outgrow a milk allergy.
When J was 15 months old he had an anaphylactic reaction to cow’s milk after getting hold of another child’s bottle. His airways closed up, he struggled to breathe and we had to give him the epipen. It was a terrifying day and the moment when we really understood the reality of living with his multiple allergies.
Starting the milk ladder
Despite this reaction and J’s high test results, our consultant encouraged us to try a baked milk challenge under hospital supervision just 8 months later. She told us 80% children with milk allergies can tolerate baked milk and if so, it may help them outgrow a milk allergy quicker.
The first step on the milk ladder involves going into hospital for the morning and eating a biscuit! (If your allergy is less servere, you may be allowed to do this at home.) The doctor will repeat the skin prick test and then slowly introduce small amounts of a malted milk biscuit, checking for any reactions. You then may need to stay a few more hours just in case they have a delayed reaction.
So we decided it was worth trying – and he passed!
Climbing the milk ladder
We continued giving him baked milk at home slowly and cautiously, introducing each new step the same way they do in hospital – rubbing it on his lip, giving a pea size amount, a small bite, a quarter etc and waiting 20 minutes between each one.
He tolerated each step with no reaction and after tests showed his numbers had come down significantly a year later, we started climbing higher, introducing cow’s milk yoghurt and chocolate in the same way.
Can you outgrow a milk allergy?
At our most recent appointment, his skin prick test to milk was negative! It was amazing to see this and I couldn’t quite believe it, so it was time to make the big, scary leap and try fresh cow’s milk.
I added a teaspoon of milk to his soy milk – he is a fussy eater and had already refused to eat cheese, so I knew this was the only way to do it.
I watched and waited tenatively. And nothing happened. He passed with flying colours!
It is such a relief to know he can now safely eat cow’s milk now, especially with him starting school in September. I never would have expected him to outgrow a milk allergy after an anaphylactic reaction less than three years ago, so it gives me hope we might be able to to tackle some more.
We have also tried to introduce baked egg to J but unfortunately he has failed this challenge three times now, so it’s not always such plain sailing. Most children do outgrow egg allergies though so I am still crossing my fingers we will get there. The nuts, sesame and garlic are a little more uncertain but there are new therapies and research being done all the time so watch this space!
**Make sure you only try the milk ladder under the advice of your dietician or consultant and if your child has suffered a severe reaction in the past, you should start it in hospital. **