Acute allergic reactions in vietnamese children after drinking a new milk product

Thuan Huu Vo*, Ninh Hoang Le, Mahomed Said Patel, Lan Trong Phan, Nhu Nguyen Tran Minh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In early October 2009, pediatricians in hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) reported an unusual increase in the number of children presenting with an acute onset of itchy rash and some with breathing difficulties shortly after drinking milk products. The pediatricians considered the illness to be an allergic reaction to milk. The objective of our investigation was to identify the cause of this acute illness. Following early case reports, all hospitals in HCMC were requested to report cases of this illness. Parents were advised to take children with symptoms to a hospital immediately. A case-series was conducted to generate hypotheses on the possible causes of the illness and was followed by a case-control study to test the hypothesis. Parents of all cases and controls were interviewed face-to-face. The association between food items and the allergy was tested using conditional logistics regression. From 9 to 28 October 2009, 19 cases fulfilled the case definition, and 16 of the 17 cases included in the study had consumed milk supplemented with galacto- oligosaccharides (GOS) shortly before the onset of illness. Fifty age-matched, neighborhood controls were enrolled into the case control study. Of the 30 food items consumed by study participants in the preceding 24 h, only the odds ratio (OR) of milk supplemented with GOS was statistically significant: OR=34.0 (95% CI=3.9, 294.8). Laboratory tests of this milk product did not reveal any unusual properties, chemicals, or other toxic substances. This is the first report of an acute allergic reaction to fresh milk supplemented with GOS. However, the specific allergen in this product was not identified. Further cases were not reported once this product was withdrawn from sale. Vietnam's food safety authorities should expand laboratory capacity to detect allergens in food products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-159
Number of pages4
JournalFoodborne Pathogens and Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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