What causes breast 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.
Cows’ milk allergy in babies
Cows’ milk allergy (CMA), also called cows’ milk protein allergy, is one of the most common childhood food allergies.
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:
- immediate CMA – where symptoms typically start within minutes of having cows’ milk
- delayed CMA – where symptoms typically start several hours, or even days, after having cows’ milk
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.
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.
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.
Treatment for lactose intolerance
Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s intolerance. 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.
Read more about treatment for lactose intolerance in children.
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:
- stomach rumbling and pains
Sheet final reviewed: 12 July 2019
Next review due: 12 July 2022
Milk Allergy in Infants
If your baby seems additional fussy, gassy, barfy, snorty or rashy you may wonder, “Can babies be allergic to breastmilk?” The answer?
No, the natural breastmilk proteins are so mild that they just don’t provoke allergies in babies.
However, here’s the large BUT. Babies can be allergic to foods that you eat…tiny bits of which can sneak into your milk!
How do we know infants don’t get breastmilk allergies? In 1983, Swedish scientists proved that even colicky babies are totally fine with their mom’s milk, however, they can be allergic to proteins that pass through the mom’s intestines into her bloodstream and then into her milk.
And, those foreign invaders can sometimes create major hassles.
About 10% of colic caused by a baby food allergy—most often the common allergenic foods, love dairy, soy, citrus, eggs, nuts, etc.—or food sensitivity—like caffeine in coffee, chocolate, ice tea, cola, Chinese herbs or decongestant medicine. (Most colic has nothing to do with the intestines. It’s actually an imbalance of too much chaos and too much silent and too little rhythmic stimulation. That’s why fussy babies can often be soothed by the 5 S’s.)