Link between soy milk and peanut allergies dispelled

The suspicion that drinking soy milk or soy-based formula is a factor in children developing a peanut allergy has been dispelled by Australian scientists.

An allergy to peanuts is the most common cause in children of the life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis and previous research has suggested a link between the use of soy products and the development of peanut allergies.

The researchers from the University of Melbourne, say the two legumes produce sets of similar proteins and it was previously suspected that this might lead to a certain amount of cross-reaction in interactions with the immune system.

Epidemiologist Jennifer Koplin says the results show it is a myth that children who are given soy products have an increased risk of becoming allergic to peanuts.

The new study shows that the association between soy consumption and peanut allergy is coincidental and it occurs because parents whose children are already at higher risk of peanut allergy, due to a family or personal history of cow's milk allergy, are more likely to give their children soy.

The researchers in conjunction with the Murdoch Children's Institute, analysed data from the Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study which closely followed 620 children from the time of their birth until they were two years old and they say they found no evidence that drinking soy increased the risk of peanut allergy.

Ms Koplin, a PhD student, is now involved in a further study looking at other factors concerning allergies.

Peanut allergy affects about 1 in 100 children with the rate more than doubling in the past 30 years.

The research is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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