Milk allergy is known to occur most often among babies and young children. It can manifest at any age and can be triggered by foods that were previously eaten without any issues.
This allergy can develop in both breastfed and formula-fed infants. Infants who are breastfed can develop milk allergy to cow’s milk protein passed via breast milk and might not have a reaction until cow’s milk is consumed. Many babies who have milk allergy might lose the allergy as they grow up.
Always bear in mind that milk allergy is not similar with lactose intolerance which is the inability to properly digest lactose. This condition is uncommon among infants and young children but common in adults.
What are the signs and symptoms?
An allergic reaction to foods typically starts within minutes up to a few hours after consuming a particular food. The severity tends to vary from one case to another. When it comes to a mild reaction, it involves a few hives and itchiness while severe cases involve life-threatening symptoms such as a swollen throat and breathing difficulty. The symptoms of food allergy may include any or several of the following:
- Hives and eczema
- Swelling or tingling of the tongue, lips or throat
- Shortness of breath, tightness of chest or difficulty breathing
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Anaphylaxis or severe reaction that involves several areas of the body
Can I prevent exposure?
If a child has milk allergy, strict avoidance of milk and dairy products is a must in order to avoid a reaction from taking place. Food manufacturers are required to list down all the common food allergens on the food labels.
Those who have milk allergy must strictly avoid the following foods and ingredients:
- Casein and casein hydrosylates
- Butter (including butter fat, artificial butter flavor, butter oil)
- Lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, lactalbumin phosphate and lactulose
- Cheese and cream cheese
- Custard, yogurt and pudding
- Cream and ice cream
- Sour cream or sour milk
Always bear in mind that many children with milk allergy are able to tolerate highly heated variants of milk. These are usually found in baked goods such as waffles or muffins. Inform the doctor if the child is able to tolerate these foods.
Milk products are vital sources of calcium and vitamin D, thus it is vital to eat other foods that are packed with these nutrients such as spinach, broccoli and soy products. The best way to ensure that the child has a well-balanced and healthy diet that has enough nutrients is to consult a dietician.