Certain types of chalk may trigger milk allergies

For kids with milk allergies, the old excuse “I’m allergic to school” may be rooted in some truth, according to new research.

Certain types of chalk used in schools may contain casein, a milk protein that often is used in low powder chalk. Inhaling casein-containing chalk dust can be dangerous for milk allergic kids as it can cause an allergic reaction, including respiratory symptoms, a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports.

“Chalks that are labeled as being anti-dust or dustless still release small particles into the air,” Carlos H. Larramendi, MD, lead study author said in a statement. “Our research has found when the particles are inhaled by children with milk allergy, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can occur. Inhalation can also cause nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose.”

An allergic reaction is an immune response that is triggered when an allergic person comes in contact with protein from something, such as a food, he or she is sensitive to. Allergies differ from intolerances (such as lactose intolerance) by the involvement of the immune system (this post breaks down the main differences).

Roughly 300,000 kids in the U.S have a milk allergy, although about 80 percent will outgrow it by the time they are 16, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Milk protein also can be found in other common classroom items, such as glue and paper.

The researchers also urge parents with allergic kids to talk to school officials, teachers and coaches to make them aware of the child’s allergies and work out a plan for dealing with them.

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