Allergies : Allergy to Cow's Milk May Lead to Weaker Bones

Children who are allergic to cow's milk may have weaker bones than kids with other food allergies, suggests a new study. The most common childhood food allergy in the U.S., cow's milk allergy affects up to 3 percent of kids. The main treatment is to eliminate cow's milk and dairy products -- major sources of the calcium children need to build strong bones.

"Prepubertal children with persistent cow's milk allergy have lower bone mineral density and calcium intake compared with similarly aged children with food allergies other than cow's milk," says study author Genevieve Mailhot.

Although the difference in bone density in the study wasn't significant enough to worry about fractures, the findings warrant attention and observation. Long-standing cow's milk allergy in adults has been linked to reduced bone density, but children with this food allergy haven't been studied a great deal.

In this study, kids with a cow's milk allergy had lower average calcium intake (930 mg per day; recommended daily intake is 1,000 mg) than children with other food allergies. Vitamin D intake in both groups was well below the recommended 600 IU per day. Only 37 percent of children with cow's milk allergy reported taking a calcium supplement, and 44 percent reported taking vitamin D.

If your child is allergic to cow's milk, it's important to introduce alternative sources of calcium. Soy, almond, or rice milk and fortified orange juice are good sources of calcium. Collard greens, broccoli, kale, edamame, white beans, and almonds are also rich in this important mineral. Look for a high-quality daily multivitamin/mineral supplement that's specially formulated for children to ensure your child is getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and other bone-building nutrients every day.
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