Can you Outgrow an Allergy?

In the fall of 1997, my mother was shocked to discover her baby could not ingest formula without getting sick. Regardless of the brand or type, I still could not drink it. She was very concerned and confused and went to multiple doctors to discover the reason. After visiting several doctors, my mother concluded that I have a severe milk allergy. Throughout my entire life, I have had to avidly avoid dairy products such as ice cream, chocolate, yogurt, cheese, etc. Doctors repeatedly told me that, with age, I would outgrow my allergy. However, the exact opposite occurred. The severity of my reactions worsened to now being practically fatal.

Allergies are a result of an overactive immune system that recognizes a harmless substance as a threat to the body. The brain triggers the system to produce immunoglobulin antibodies as a defense. The dispersal of the antibodies causes the allergic reaction. Doctors do not know the mechanism or reason why some allergies disappear over the course of someone’s lifetime. A possible explanation for the disappearing allergies is that a person grows accustomed to the allergen. Regular exposure dulls the body’s reaction to eventual disappearance. Doctors can predict whether or not a child will outgrow an allergy through a blood test that measures the number of immunoglobulin antibodies in the blood stream when probed with the allergen. When a person suspects he has outgrown an allergy, the allergist can conduct a “food challenge” and give the patient a small amount of the allergen and carefully watch the person’s reaction. (Live Science) 

So why do some children outgrow their allergies while others like myself do not? Studies suggest that 60-80% of children will outgrow a dairy allergy by age 16, 20% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy, and 4-5% will outgrow a shell fish allergy. However, if a person contracts multiple allergies than his chances of outgrowing the sensitivity are slim. Unfortunately, it is very common for a child to be born with more than one allergy. Along with dairy, I was also allergic to eggs and soy but outgrew both. (Healthline) allergies

 Johns Hopkins Children’s Center conducted an experiment to discover how likely a person is to outgrow a dairy or egg allergy, two of the most difficult allergies to outgrow. The study followed 800 children with a milk allergy and 900 with an egg allergy for 13 years. The results showed that the allergies followed the children far into their teen and adult years; thus, the chances of outgrowing the allergen are extremely low. Robert Wood, M.D. of Hopkins Children states that over the course of 20 years more children are born with allergies than ever before and they are becoming harder and harder to outgrow. Also the sudden surge in allergies could be due to increased awareness. In previous decades, people were not as familiar with food allergies and some may have gone undiagnosed.

Unfortunately for me, I am still allergic to milk at age 19. I will most likely be allergic for my entire life. Certain allergens are easier to outgrow than others and some are actually permanent.


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8 thoughts on “Can you Outgrow an Allergy?

  1. dhc5097

    I was intrigued by this article because my friend from home happens to be allergic to about everything and was hoping to give him some hope that he could outgrow many of his allergies after reading this article. I personally never knew much about allergies and why certain people were allergic to specific things while others weren’t. I always thought allergies were permanent but knowing that you can outgrow allergies is a sign of relief for my friend. My dad became allergic to carrots and other vegetables later in life and my sister became allergic to milk and other dairy products as well. This was extremely shocking as I love ice cream and other dairy products, which made me worry if allergies ran in the family. I found an interesting article online discussing whether or not allergies ran in the family.

  2. Kameron Villavicencio

    I was drawn into this post because I’ve come to think that I may being developing an intolerance to lactose. I know that is different than allergies such as peanuts, but I was curious what you had to say. Firstly, I’m sorry about your allergy. Secondly, I don’t think I ever knew the science behind allergies. I’ve never had any, and I just thought of them as most people do which is “you can’t have this thing”. I was surprised to find that some are permanent. I met someone over the summer who developed a peanut allergy later in life, and it has only gotten worse. Thanks to this blog I now know the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy because it made me want to look it up. I wanted to read more when I got to the end of your blog, so thank you for enlightening me on something I didn’t realize I was so clueless on.

  3. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    I have multiple food allergies varying from fruits to different types of nuts. Your post is extremely helpful in understanding why I, and many other people, get these allergic reactions. After reading this post, I am hopeful that there is a chance of growing out of these allergies. This topic of growing out of allergies made me also think of how people develop allergies. I have some allergies that I developed as I got older and I always wondered why I wasn’t able to eat the same foods as I used to eat. I found this article ( that shares why common food allergies might develop over time.

  4. Thomas John Krieger

    I liked how you talked about your personal experiences in this blog. I feel bad for you considering ice cream and chocolate are 2 of my favorite things. I’m confused how you said, “60-80% of kids will out grow a dairy allergy by age 16” but later on you went onto say that is is one of the most difficult allergies to outgrow. I think that 60-80% is pretty good odds. Exposing allergic people to the allergen in small doses is an interesting theory. The article below agrees with this theory at least for egg allergies.

  5. Thomas Garvin

    I really like how you address the mechanism part of the allergies disappearing. I have a few friends who just stopped having serious allergic food reactions and it always boggled my mind. Your blog also does a nice job referring to a credible study. My only question is wether or not confounding third variables play a role in the disappearance of certain food allergies. Are the results the same for non-food allergies such as bee stings? Whats the probability that someone can grow IN to an allergy? My dad is allergic to bees and has been since he was a kid, here is an interesting article about bee stings and how to determine wether or not a reaction to a sting is allergic:

  6. Sarah Tarczewski

    I was interested in reading this post because I have a close friend with a severe corn allergy. She was diagnosed in our sophomore year of high school and has since been struggling with this allergy. You would be surprised to see just how many products contain corn. She can’t even use certain bowls or containers!

    My friend has to get most of her fruits and vegetables from a specific farm that doesn’t use corn-related pesticides. It’s really been a struggle for her, but there is some hope. She gets a few shots a year in hopes to lower the severity of her corn allergy. I’ve linked another article to let you know that one day there may also be hope for your allergy!

  7. Lauren Eve Ribeiro

    I found this post really interesting to read. You talk a lot about people being born with allergies and the percentage of people who will outgrow them by a certain age. However, what about the people who get them later on life. Personally my mother started becoming allergic to shell fish in her early 30’s, a couple years after having me. With your data she has a 4% chance to outgrow this allergy. Does this percentage change considering she only became allergic at such a late age. Also, her brother and mother are also allergic to fish but for the first 30 years of her life she was always ok. Is it possible that pregnancy in some way could have prompted this allergy.

  8. Charlotte Anderson

    I was drawn to your post because my younger brother outgrew a variety of allergies so I wanted to hear your opinion on the issue. As a child he was allergic to nuts, eggs, and dairy. This was a big problem because getting milk when he was a baby, my parents were unaware he had an allergy so he suffered from horrible skin rashes. Once he got a little older he took various “challenges” at the doctor and actually passed all of them, meaning he outgrew his allergies. His friend was not so lucky. He was deathly allergic and even one time had to land a plane because he just smelled peanuts. He was forced to incorporate small portions of things he was allergic to into his everyday diet in an attempt to help him outgrow them. Here’s some facts and myths from Web Md which goes more into detial on the subject .

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