What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

Cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy occurring in young children, affecting between 2 and 7.5% of kids under age one. Previous studies own shown that most children will outgrow milk allergy by three to five years of age. That means that a significant proportion of children will continue to be allergic to milk, at least until their adolescent or teenager years, and may never outgrow their milk allergy. More recent information suggests that the number of children who do not outgrow their milk allergy is even higher.


Could it be lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is another type of reaction to milk, when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk.

However, this is not an allergy.

Lactose intolerance can be temporary – for example, it can come on for a few days or weeks after a tummy bug.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  1. vomiting
  2. stomach rumbling and pains
  3. diarrhoea 
  4. wind


Cows’ milk allergy in babies

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA), also called cows’ milk protein allergy, is one of the most common childhood food allergies.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

It is estimated to affect around 7% of babies under 1, though most children grow out of it by the age of 5.

CMA typically develops when cows’ milk is first introduced into your baby’s diet either in formula or when your baby starts eating solids.

More rarely, it can affect babies who are exclusively breastfed because of cows’ milk from the mother’s diet passing to the baby through breast milk.

There are 2 main types of CMA:

  1. immediate CMA – where symptoms typically start within minutes of having cows’ milk
  2. delayed CMA – where symptoms typically start several hours, or even days, after having cows’ milk


Further information:

Sheet final reviewed: 12 July 2019
Next review due: 12 July 2022

If your kid has an allergy to milk, you may own heard that numerous children outgrow these allergies.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

When does this occur? And, importantly, is your kid truly allergic to milk in the first place?


Symptoms of cows’ milk allergy

Cows’ milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  1. digestive problems – such as stomach ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea or constipation
  2. hay fever-like symptoms – such as a runny or blocked nose
  3. skin reactions – such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes
  4. 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.


Treatment for lactose intolerance

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s intolerance.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

Some children with lactose intolerance may be capable to own little amounts of dairy products without having symptoms.

Your kid may be referred to a dietitian for specialist advice.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

Read more about treatment for lactose intolerance in children.


Treatment for CMA

If your baby is diagnosed with CMA, you’ll be offered advice by your GP or an allergy specialist on how to manage their allergy. You may also be referred to a dietitian.

Treatment involves removing every cows’ milk from your child’s diet for a period of time.

If your baby is formula-fed, your GP can prescribe special baby formula.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

Do not give your kid any other type of milk without first getting medical advice.

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the mom will be advised to avoid every cows’ milk products.

What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy

Your kid should be assessed every 6 to 12 months to see if they own grown out of their allergy.

Read more about cows’ milk allergy.


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