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July 3, 1967

Absence of Milk Antibodies in Milk Intolerance in Adults

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. Dr. Rosensweig is now at the US Army Medical Research Nutrition Laboratory, Denver.

JAMA. 1967;201(1):50. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130010076013

Milk intolerance, characterized by abdominal bloating, cramps, and diarrhea one to four hours after ingestion of one or two glasses of milk occurs in at least 5% of the adult white population and in over 75% of healthy Negroes.1 In the majority of these persons, the enzyme which digests the milk sugar, lactose, is deficient, and their symptoms can be reproduced by lactose administration.

So-called cow's milk allergy does not seem to play a role in this syndrome since the patients have no other allergic disorders and they are able to tolerate small quantities of milk without symptoms. In the past, serum antibodies to cow's milk or milk fractions in the serum of infants and children had been considered evidence of hypersensitivity to milk, but it is now believed that a true causal relationship between milk antibodies and clinical disease has not been proven.2

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