Symptoms Of Cows’ Milk Allergy
Cows’ milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- skin reactions such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes
- digestive problems such as stomach ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea or constipation
- hay fever-like symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose
- eczema that does not improve with treatment
Occasionally CMA can cause severe allergic symptoms that come on suddenly, such as swelling in the mouth or throat, wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and difficult, noisy breathing.
A severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, is a medical emergency call 999 or go immediately to your local hospital A& E department.
Breastfeeding A Baby Who Can’t Tolerate Milk
If your baby is lactose-intolerant, you don’t need to change your diet. It doesn’t matter how much dairy you consume, the amount of lactose in your milk will be the same.
However, if your baby is diagnosed with milk allergy, you will need to remove all dairy from your own diet too. You will need calcium and vitamin D supplements every day. Your doctor or allergy specialist will advise you.
Can Babies Be Allergic To Breast Milk
Babies cant really be allergic to breast milk itself. Moms milk is made perfectly for her baby, and it actually protects from allergies.
But babies can be allergic to things that find their way into breast milk.
How does that happen?
Through moms diet.
When a breastfeeding mom eats something that her baby is allergic or sensitive to, her baby may have a reaction.
The good news is that cutting out the allergen from moms diet will usually solve the problem for her baby.
Suggested By Cleveland Clinic
Lactoseintolerance can develop in three different ways:
Acquired lactose intolerance
Lactase activity in the small intestine naturally declines after infancy. The National Institutes of Health estimates that as many as two-thirds of people arent able to fully digest lactose beyond childhood.
Primary lactase deficiency
Rarely, babies are born with a complete absence of the lactase enzyme. These babies develop severe diarrhea while on breast milk, forcing them to require special formulas. This is a recessive trait, so the baby must acquire one abnormal gene from each parent to have the symptoms.
Secondary lactose intolerance
Someone can develop a temporary intolerance after an infection that causes irritation of the digestive tract, such as rotavirus or giardiasis. Patients often first have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, then continue to have diarrhea when consuming lactose-containing foods for some time after the infection has cleared.
Celiac disease, a digestive disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested, can also be associated with temporary lactose intolerance. Those with celiac disease can tolerate lactose-containing foods once the intestinal lining heals after going on a strict gluten-free diet. Crohns disease, an inflammatory disorder of the bowel, also can be associated with lactose intolerance. This often improves once adequate treatment is in place.
Sensitivity To Cows Milk Proteins
Breastfed babies who are sensitive to dairy in moms diet are sensitive to specific cows milk antibodies, in the form of proteins , which pass into the mothers milk. Cows milk is a common source of food sensitivity in babies. Cows milk sensitivity or allergy can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea , constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose.
If your baby is sensitive to dairy in your diet, it will not help to switch to lactose-free dairy products. The problem is the cows milk proteins, not the lactose. Cooking dairy products may reduce but will not eliminate the allergens.
A significant percentage of babies with cows milk protein allergy will also react to soy. Most dairy-allergic babies will also react to goats milk or sheeps milk. Some will also react to beef.
If you think that your baby may be sensitive to dairy products in your diet, remember that it can take 10 days to 3 weeks to eliminate cows milk protein from your systemallow a full 2-3 weeks of dairy elimination before evaluating the results.
If your baby is only a little sensitive to dairy proteins, you may be able to relieve babys symptoms by eliminating only the obvious sources of dairy you may even be able to eat small amounts of dairy without it affecting baby.
If your baby is highly allergic, it will be necessary to eliminate all sources of dairy proteins, which requires a careful reading of food labels. See the Hidden Dairy Cheat Sheet .
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How Is A Milk Allergy Diagnosed
If you think your infant is allergic to milk, call your baby’s doctor. He or she will ask you questions and talk to you about what’s going on. After the doctor examines your baby, some stool tests and blood tests might be ordered. The doctor may refer you to an allergist .
The allergist might do skin testing. In skin testing, the doctor or nurse will place a tiny bit of milk protein on the skin, then make a small scratch on the skin. If your child reacts to the allergen, the skin will swell a little in that area like an insect bite.
If the allergist finds that your baby is at risk for a serious allergic reaction, epinephrine auto-injectors will be prescribed.
Breastfeeding A Baby With Food Allergies
If you have been told that your breastfed infant has food allergies, you may be wondering what to do next. Will you be able to continue to breastfeed? You may be surprised to learn that in most cases, the answer is yes.
Even a baby who has never been formula fed, and has never had any food besides breast milk may show signs of food allergy including: diarrhea, bloody stools, vomiting, colic, eczema, constipation and poor growth. Babies can develop allergies to foods that you are eating while you are breastfeeding.
Proteins from the foods that you eat can appear in your milk within 3-6 hours after eating them. If you eliminate these foods from your diet, the proteins will disappear from your breast milk in 1-2 weeks and the babys symptoms should slowly improve. There are no recommendations to avoid any food while you are breastfeeding to prevent allergies. These restrictions are only recommended for breastfed babies who have developed symptoms.
Digestive: Blood And/or Mucus In The Stool
Blood in the stool is a likely sign of CMA in infants. The blood results from inflammation in the gut. It can appear in the diaper as either red or black. Red blood means the bleeding is in the lower end of the gut. Black color usually signals bleeding higher up, like from uncontrolled reflux. If you notice red or black in your babys diaper, call the doctor.
Mucus looks like what comes out of your nose when you have a cold or runny nose. It looks sticky when you open the diaper. A little bit can be normal, but if you see a lot or it lasts a while, it can signal a food allergy.
Treatment And Management: Lactose Intolerance In Older Children And Teenagers
If your older or teenage child is diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you can reduce the amount of lactose in her diet. But you dont need to get rid of products with lactose completely, especially if your child eats only small amounts of them with other foods during the day.
The following food and diet tips can help.
These foods are OK:
- cheeses with very low lactose content brie, camembert, cheddar, colby, edam, fetta, gouda, havarti, mozzarella, parmesan, halloumi, Swiss and Tilstat
- yoghurt the bacteria in yoghurt breaks down the lactose so its usually fine for your child to eat
- calcium-fortified soy products soy yoghurt, soy milk, soy ice-cream and soy cheese
- lactose-free cows milk
- butter and cream these contain only small amounts of lactose and are usually fine to eat
- bread, cereals, fruit, vegetables, meat and other protein foods
- full-fat milk the fat in full-fat milk gives your childs body longer to digest lactose.
Watch out for these foods:
- milk ice-cream and milk desserts
- cream cheese, processed cheese and cheese spread
- muesli bars
- instant mashed potato and vegetables with added milk or white sauces.
Check the ingredients in these foods:
- biscuits, cakes and cake mixes
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Milk Intolerance In Babies And Children
Some babies and children have a reaction when they drink cow’s milk or formula made from cow’s milk. This could be due to 2 things: a lactose intolerance or an allergy to milk. If your child has one of these conditions, you will have to alter their diet to cut down on milk or avoid it altogether.
- wheezing or difficulty breathing
- they are pale and floppy or unconscious
How Milk Allergies Affect Babies
When a child has a milk allergy, the proteins in the milk stick to certain antibodies that are created by the immune system. The symptoms produced by the immune defenses that cause the reaction can be mild or severe.
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Milk Allergies In Babies
When it comes to milk allergy symptoms in babies, theres quite a variety. Theyre often similar to the symptoms of other common conditions that your baby might experience – colic, reflux and constipation being just a few examples1.
Here, youll find a wealth of information to help if you think that your baby may have a cows milk protein allergy, and what to do if thats the case.
Baby Food Allergy Treatment
If you suspect that your baby has an allergy, there isnt a specific way to tell what theyre reacting to. While dairy is the most common allergen, it isnt always the culprit.
A family history of food allergies might help determine the cause. If a family member is allergic to a certain food, theres a higher chance the baby will be too.
Theres debate about whether or not to prevent eating common allergens late in pregnancy and early breastfeeding. Some experts think that exposure in the womb and through breast milk will improve outcomes. Others believe that it could sensitize them to the allergen and cause a problem.
The research isnt clear, so its probably best to eat a normal diet UNLESS you notice a reaction in your baby.
One way to prevent food allergies is to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. When your baby is 6 months old, their GI tract becomes mature. Before that time, it can allow small proteins through . Breast milk encourages healing and is easily digested. So if you are concerned about allergies, its a great option to just breastfeed your baby exclusively!
How To Determine What Baby Is Allergic To
The best way to figure out what your baby is allergic to is to cut the food out of your diet. It takes 1-2 weeks for the food to be completely out of your breast milk and sometimes babies seem worse before getting better.
Keeping a journal of what foods you eat and how your baby acts might help you figure out what the problem food is.
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Managing Your Childs Cows Milk Allergy
When your baby is diagnosed with a cows milk allergy, its only natural to feel worried. But once you know the cause of your babys symptoms, you can take positive steps to keep them healthy.
Your GP will discuss the options for management with you, and you may be referred to a dietician to look at the foods your baby is eating6.
A Personal Story About Baby Allergies
When my husband was a baby, he stopped breathing twice.
His parents were terrified.
Both times, it was after he was exposed to milk.
So when I had my daughter, I knew that giving her dairy wasnt an option. However I drank it and breastfed and she didnt seem to have a problem with that.
My daughter also had eczema .
When she turned 5 months old, my pediatrician suggested introducing peanut butter to her. His theory was that exposure young could help prevent allergies in the future. He also refused to test her allergies because often there are false positives.
So I gave her a tiny bit of peanut butter. She swelled up, almost stopped breathing, and we spent the following 2 nights in the Emergency Room.
It was terrifying.
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Milk Allergy Or Milk Intolerance
Babies can either be allergic or intolerant to milk. Because some of the symptoms are similar, it can be difficult to diagnose. Not to mention confusing!
A milk allergy involves an immune reaction to one or more of the proteins present in milk, whereas an intolerance does not involve the immune system.
An intolerance is caused by an inability to deal with certain substances in milk, such as lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when you don’t produce any or enough of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. Undigested lactose causes uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating and wind.Watch our video to understand the difference between allergy and intolerance, and how to recognise their symptoms.
Milk Allergy Symptoms In Babies
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system as it tries to protect us from foreign proteins. In older kids and adults, the fight between your body and say, cat dander or pollen, takes place up high, causing a runny nose or sneezing. But with infants, the allergy battleground is in the intestines. Here are the most common symptoms of milk allergies in infants.
- A lot of spitting up
- Signs of abdominal pain
- Slimy diarrhea or blood in stools
- Eczema Scaly skin rash
- Coughing or wheezing
- Watery eyes, runny nose or stuffy nose
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Dairy Allergy And Formula
If your baby breastfeeds and takes formula, a cow’s milk-based formula can cause milk allergy symptoms. Milk allergy is actually more prevalent in formula-fed babies. If formula is the cause, you may need to change the brand you use. Soy formula is an option, but it can also cause allergies in about 10% to 15% of infants who are allergic to the cow’s milk protein. A hypoallergenic formula may be used instead.
If Your Child Has An Allergic Reaction
If your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, follow the food allergy action plan your doctor gave you.
If your child has symptoms of a serious reaction :
- Give the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Every second counts in an allergic reaction.
- Then, or take your child to the emergency room. Your child needs to be under medical supervision because, even if the worst seems to have passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.
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When Does Cows Milk Allergy Start
The symptoms typically develop from two hours after consumption but can take up to 72 hours. If cows milk continues to be consumed in the diet, the immune system will continue to produce such symptoms over days or even weeks. How quickly or slowly symptoms appear will help to identify the type of reaction.
Think Your Baby Is Allergic To Cows Milk
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
When young infants develop vomiting, diarrhea, and fussiness, some of them are diagnosed as having an allergy to cows milk protein. When that diagnosis is made, babies on formula have to switch to a specialized formula and the mothers of breastfeeding babies have to eliminate all dairy from their diets.
The problem is that specialized formulas are very expensive, which can be a real burden for families. And eliminating all dairy from your diet can be very difficult , leading some mothers to stop breastfeeding.
If every baby that was diagnosed with cows milk allergy definitely had it, this would be unfortunate but unavoidable. However, many if not most of the babies who get this diagnosis dont have it at all.
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How To Know If A Baby Has Food Allergies
This article was co-authored by Corey Fish, MD. Dr. Corey Fish is a practicing Pediatrician and the Chief Medical Officer at Brave Care, a pediatric healthcare company based in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Fish has over 10 years of experience in pediatric care and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Fish received a BS in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University in 2005, an MD from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2009, and completed his Pediatric Residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 2012.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 21,136 times.
Food allergies are more common in babies than adults, though food intolerances are more likely to strike your baby than allergies. To determine if your baby has a food allergy, you should watch for common symptoms. You should also pay particular attention to foods that are more likely to cause allergic reactions, such as shellfish, eggs, nuts, and milk. Finally, if you determine your baby does exhibit symptoms of an allergy, you need to talk to their pediatrician to develop a plan of action.