Authored by Kristian Keefer in Child and Teen Health
Published on 02-22-2009
A dairy allergy in a baby or child can be serious and should not be confused with dairy intolerance (commonly referred to as milk or lactose intolerance). As with any allergy, a dairy allergy can result in anaphylactic shock in the severest of cases. A parent needs to be cautious but does not need to frighten their child if they do have a dairy allergy. Most children exhibit mild or (at worst) moderate symptoms if they do suffer from a milk allergy.
If a child is has dairy intolerance, they will not experience dangerous symptoms. On the other hand, when a child has a dairy allergy, their body perceives components of dairy products as a foreign body. Their immune system begins to attack this perceived threat. The immune system is not altered if a child has intolerance. If a child is dairy intolerant they often experience gastro-intestinal symptoms. As the name implies, their body does not tolerate dairy products well.
Physicians are starting to learn more about dairy allergies and as such are better able to educate parents. Children who experience a dairy allergy might be allergic to casein or whey protein in cow’s milk. In some cases, they might also be allergic to the lactose sugar. It is more common for a child to be allergic to the proteins in milk.
If parents have dairy allergies or some of their other children have an allergy, they should note that a new baby could also have a dairy allergy. Parents should make it a point to tell physicians that their new baby could develop a dairy allergy. Doctors recommend not introducing any children to cow’s milk until after they reach one year of age. A pediatrician can help parents determine how to supplement their child’s diet if they are unable to drink milk or to consume other dairy products.
There are any number of possible symptoms that a child will experience if they have a dairy allergy. If your child has cramps, bloating or other tummy troubles after eating dairy products, it is possible that they have an allergy. Children with dairy allergies will often break out in a rash or hiaves after they have had dairy products.
Dairy allergies often cause respiratory symptoms. A child could become congested, start wheezing or even have difficulty swallowing after eating and drinking dairy products. Dairy allergies can result in a child having swelling in their throat or swelling of the lips. Parents should seek medical attention immediately if their child is experiencing difficulty breathing or swallowing. If a parent has any reason to believe that their child is experiencing a dairy allergy, they must consult with their child’s physician.
Parents need to keep in mind that dairy products can be found in a variety of food sources. Obviously, milk is a thought of as the main dairy product. Dairy components are also found in ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Believe it or not, dairy proteins can also be found in a variety of unlikely foods including: some pastas, cookies, crackers and bread. Parents need to read labels very carefully if they have a child with a dairy allergy.
Parents must work closely with their child’s pediatrician if they have a dairy allergy. A pediatrician can refer the child and their parents to a dietician. This dietician will help parents plan dairy free menus that offer children the essential nutrients that they will not be able to obtain from dairy products.