Manama: Children with cow's milk allergy (CMA) can safely consume camel milk as an alternative, studies conducted by Qatar's Paediatric Allergy-Immunology Clinics of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have concluded.

The studies, the first of their kind worldwide, were conducted between April 2007 and February 2010 on children with CMA attending the clinics.

Both studies were designed to determine whether children with CMA could safely consume camel milk without experiencing the same allergic reactions as they had to cow's milk, Qatari daily Gulf Times reported on Wednesday.

The first study was conducted on 35 children aged between six and 12 months and who had CMA-related symptoms. The children were exclusively breastfed for 15.1 months (range of three to 24 months).

The research also studied whether a skin prick test to camel milk could be used as a reliable clinical diagnostic tool.

"The study was published in the May-June issue of the journal Allergy and Asthma Proceedings under the title Camel milk: An alternative for cow's milk allergy in children," Dr Mohammad Ehlayel, consultant paediatrician and head of the paediatric allergy-immunology of the Department of Paediatrics at HMC, said.

"Results indicated that 80% of children with CMA were safely able to consume camel milk without developing any adverse allergic reaction," Ehlayel, also a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, said, quoted by the daily.

Children with CMA were previously advised to avoid dairy products and usually received substitutes that include soymilk or highly processed milk, he said.

"Although extensively hydrolysed and soy-based formulas are highly nutritious, they are also more costly and are not always palatable to children due to their strong state. Consequently, numerous studies have been conducted to find alternative sources of mammalian milk, including that of sheep, goats, mares, buffalo and donkeys, but this is the first time that camel milk has been researched in this way."

The second study, which included 38 children with CMA, concluded that 80% of children with CMA could consume camel milk without showing any allergic symptoms, while only 36.8% of them could consume goat milk with no allergic symptoms.

The research results were published in the July issue of the International Scholarly Research Network on Allergy under the title ‘Camel milk is a safer choice than goat milk for feeding children with cow's milk allergy.'

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has concluded that the composition of camel milk is closer to that of human milk compared with that of cow's milk, and considered camel milk of high therapeutic and nutritional value.