n South African Medical Journal - Elimination diets and dietary interventions for the management of food allergies : continuing medical education

Volume 105, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The primary therapy for food allergy is strict avoidance of the offending food or foods. Dietary restriction should be tailored to meet the nutritional requirements of each patient. Patients should be educated on how to avoid allergens safely by understanding terminology for common ingredients and how to read food labels. Information regarding safe, cost-effective and freely available substitutes for the avoided foods should be provided. Patients should be re-evaluated at regular intervals to see if they have developed tolerance. Mothers of infants with cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA) who are breastfeeding should be supported and encouraged to continue breastfeeding. Partially hydrolysed infant formulas are not hypoallergenic (tolerated by 90% of subjects with proven CMPA) and are therefore not recommended for the treatment of CMPA, but may have a role in prevention of eczema or CMPA in high-risk individuals. Some extensively hydrolysed and amino-acid-based formulas are truly hypoallergenic. The recommended feed of choice for the dietary management of mild-to-moderate CMPA in infants not breastfed is an extensively hydrolysed cow's milk formula. The recommended formula for the dietary management of non-breastfed infants and children with known severe CMPA is an amino-acid-based formula. Soya-based formulas may be useful in infants with immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated CMPA with proven tolerance to soya, and some cases of mild-to-moderate non-IgE-mediated CMPA, bearing in mind the increased risk of co-reactivity between CMPA and soya allergy in non-IgE-mediated conditions. Other mammalian milks and plant-based milks, including rice and oat milks, are not suitable as sole nutrition for cow's milk protein allergic individuals.

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