goats milk in a pitcher
08 April 2022
News Category: 
Patient and health stories

As the first of its kind in Australia, a study looking at goat’s and sheep’s milk has shown a link between new-onset severe food allergy, including anaphylaxis to the use of goat’s milk containing skincare products in individuals with inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema.

Led by specialist clinical and experimental researchers from the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and the University of Melbourne, the study identified seven patients from the RMH Allergy Clinics who had conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, and who used food-containing skincare products in their skincare routine, prior to developing the food allergy.

The RMH’s Clinical Immunologist and Allergist, Dr Joseph De Luca, who led the study, says the research was initiated after clinicians began seeing an increase in patients presenting with systemic reactions to goat’s milk and cheese ingestion to help manage inflammatory skin conditions.

“In our study, all of the participants developed a severe food allergy to goat’s milk following the use of goat’s milk skincare products while managing eczema or psoriasis,” said Dr De Luca.

“This is of concern, as food-containing products are commonly promoted as a safer and more ‘natural’ way of managing a variety of skin conditions, but these patients developed severe reactions, including anaphylaxis.”

Participants underwent skin prick testing for commercial goat's milk extract and skin prick testing for sheep’s milk, yogurt, camel’s milk, buffalo milk mozzarella and cow’s milk.

Each participant was skin prick test-positive to goat’s milk extract and sheep’s milk. Three were positive to goat and sheep milk, and four to at least one other milk product. Further laboratory studies at the University of Melbourne showed the allergic antibodies (lgE) found in these patients were also bound to skincare products, linking the newly developed food allergy to the product.

“This study represents the largest cohort reported to date, although one major limitation of work was the small sample size,” said Dr De Luca.

“Our findings provide novel evidence of the origins of adult-onset milk allergy, and adds to the growing body of evidence that the use of food-based skincare products for inflammatory skin conditions can lead to the development of new food allergies,” Dr De Luca added.

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