Cow's milk allergy is one of the leading childhood food allergies in the U.S. affecting up to 3 percent of kids. In a new study, researchers revealed one of the unwanted consequences of children being allergic to cow's milk.
For the new study published in the journal Pediatrics on April 20, researchers found that children who have cow's milk allergy are more likely to have weaker bones compared with their peers who have other food allergies.
Study researcher Anne Des Roches, from the University of Montreal in Canada, and colleagues measured the bone mineral density of 81 pre-puberty stage children with food allergies. Fifty-two of these participants were allergic to cow's milk while 29 were allergic to other food products other than milk.
The researchers found low bone mineral density in 6 percent of the children with cow's milk allergy and none in the children who were not allergic to milk.
The researchers likewise discovered that the kids with cow's milk allergy had lower calcium intake compared with the children in the non-allergic group.
Experts said that the result of the study isn't surprising given that the main treatment for children with cow's milk allergy is to eliminate cow's milk and other dairy products from their diet. These dairy products are known to be major sources of calcium that kids need to build strong bones.
"These prepubertal children with persistent CMA had lower lumbar spine BMD z scores than children with NCMA, which likely resulted from lower calcium intake," wrote Des Roches and colleagues.
Tania Winzenberg from the University of Tasmania in Australia, who was not part of the study, said that low lumbar spine bone mineral density is linked to higher fracture risk among kids.
Nonetheless, she said that some dairy milk replacements that are supplemented with calcium, nuts, fish, tofu and some vegetables can also be good sources of extra calcium.
Parents of children who have milk allergies are urged to provide their children with alternate sources of calcium. Experts also recommend having a dietitian evaluate the child's diet to determine how to increase calcium intake.
"To maximize bone health generally, fruit and vegetable intake is likely to be important, and participation in weight bearing physical activity and sports is also important," Winzenberg said.