A true allergy to milk protein appears in the first year of life, when the baby’s digestive system is still immature.
Symptoms of milk protein allergy appear at any time, between the first minutes and the first hours after the child consumes a dairy product, but more serious symptoms usually occur within the first half hour. The most common symptoms are:
- Gastrointestinal problems / upset stomach
- Vomiting and / or diarrhea.
Less common symptoms include blood in the stools.
In babies, if the milk protein allergy affects their respiratory system, they may also have nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, wheezing or difficulty breathing. In addition, the allergy can also cause eczema, hives, inflammation, itching or rash around the mouth and on the chin, due to contact with the milk.
If you suspect that your baby has an allergy to milk protein, tell your pediatrician and be sure to mention if there is a family history of allergies. Take your child to the doctor’s clinic or emergency room immediately if:
- He has trouble breathing
- It turns blue
- It is extremely pale or weak
- Has generalized urticaria
- Develops inflammation in the head and neck region
- You have bloody diarrhea
Infant Milk Allergy Symptoms Treatment
Babies fed with breast milk
If your breastfed baby develops an allergy to milk protein, your pediatrician may recommend that you follow a milk-free diet. (You should take an additional calcium supplement in addition to the prenatal vitamin you are already taking.) When you wean your baby, delay feeding cow’s milk as much as possible and give it very carefully at the beginning, as instructed by your doctor.
Babies fed formula milk
Babies with an allergy to milk protein should receive alternatives such as soy formula milk or elemental formula milk, according to the guidelines of their pediatrician. Ask your doctor to recommend a brand of hypoallergenic formula milk made with extensively hydrolyzed protein, which is processed in a way that avoids allergic reactions. He can offer you not only guidance on which formulas to select, but also where to buy them (they are not available in all stores).
Babies over one year of age
If a pediatrician suspects that there is an allergy to milk protein, he will first try to completely eliminate milk and milk products for a period of time to see if there is any improvement. If there is, your child may need a trial with milk; that is, a controlled introduction of milk into the diet. This will reveal if the symptoms diminish or disappear when the milk is avoided and if they reappear when it is reintroduced. This milk test should be carried out carefully and under the supervision of a doctor; do not experiment trying to introduce milk by your own choice; Talk to your pediatrician. Babies who are allergic to milk protein can get sick quickly, even if they have only been exposed to a small amount.
A small child older than one year who has been allergic to milk protein should avoid cheese, yogurt, ice cream and any food containing milk. You will need a substitute for milk like soy milk; If you are also sensitive to soy protein (some children are allergic to both soy and milk), your doctor may suggest another milk substitute.
Your pediatrician can use several suitable medications to treat a reaction to milk; These include antihistamines and asthma medications (if the wheezing is among the symptoms of your child’s allergy). However, the main “treatment” is to eliminate milk and milk products from your child’s diet. Most children will eventually grow and overcome the allergy near the ages between two and five years; This allergy rarely lasts until adolescence.
By the way, be sure to tell everyone who cares for your child (including babysitters and those in child care settings) about the milk protein allergy your child has so they do not get milk by mistake.
As mentioned before, breastfeeding for a baby is the best way to prevent an allergy to milk protein from developing in a newborn. Particularly if someone in your immediate family tends to allergies, you should plan to breastfeed your baby; Research has shown that breastfeeding for at least four months (some recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months or more) can prevent or delay the development of allergies to cow’s milk. When you eventually introduce other foods into your baby’s diet, you’ll want to do it gradually (one new food at a time or at two-week intervals), watching for signs of allergy.
If you can not breastfeed, ask your pediatrician to guide you in selecting an appropriate formula milk (as mentioned above).