Soy Milk Allergy Myth Debunked Soy Milk Allergy Myth Debunked
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

A young Melbourne scientist has released research that blows out of the water the theory soy milk causes peanut allergies in children.

Jennifer Koplin, 23, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, has had her research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The study was done in conjunction with the Murdoch Children’s Institute.

Ms Koplin used data gathered from the Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study, which from the early 1990s followed 690 children to see which allergies they developed, if any.

Each child was given a diet of either dairy milk, soy milk or a hydrolysed milk formula.

"There’s a bit of a myth out there that drinking soy milk can bring on peanut allergies," Ms Koplin told AAP.

"Our study proved drinking cows milk, or soy milk, makes no difference to whether an allergy develops in a child."

A 2003 study, which has been widely published and quoted, claimed soy milk was a trigger for the development of peanut allergies.

But the latest research brings those claims into question.

"The good news for parents is that they can now feed their children on soy milk and not have to worry about getting peanut allergies," Ms Koplin said.

She is completing a PhD looking at factors associated with food allergies.

This is the first paper she has had published.

"It’s very exciting for me to have some research published already, I’m only a year and a half into my PhD.

"My supervisor gave me access to the data, but it was an idea that I developed and worked on."

She is now involved in a further study, performed by the Murdoch Children’s Institute and led by Dr Katie Allen, looking at other factors to do with peanut allergies.

Five thousand children, aged 12 months old, will be studied to see how many of them develop allergies, why some do and some don’t, and why allergies are more common now than in the past.

"The study is looking at things such as the timing of food into diet – does it cause an allergy if eggs or peanuts are introduced earlier, or later?" she said.

Environmental factors are also being researched, including if parents smoke, if children are exposed to siblings or pets and the mode of birth delivery.

Peanut allergy is the leading cause of fatal anaphylactic reactions to food, affecting about one in 100 children with the rate more than doubling in the past 30 years.