Authored by Kristian Keefer in Child and Teen Health
Published on 02-07-2009
You might be surprised to learn that one of the most frequently reported allergies in kids are milk allergies. Unfortunately, a baby who develops an allergy to the proteins in cow’s milk might very well have allergies to other proteins that are introduced into their diet. You will need to watch your child closely for any signs of an allergy especially when your baby first makes the transition to milk.
There are many potential symptoms of milk allergies in children. Hives and rashes might appear on your child’s face or other areas. Gasto-intestinal symptoms are commonly present. Children might experience diarrhea or vomiting. Many children show general allergy symptoms such as a cough, runny nose or a stuffy nose. Milk allergies in babies can present in the form of your child being more irritable than usual. If your child starts experiencing any type of new symptom or unusual behavior after consuming milk products they should be evaluated by a doctor for a milk allergy.
Milk allergies in children can appear within minutes after drinking milk. Some children develop symptoms a few hours after drinking milk or eating products with milk. In some cases, allergy symptoms do not appear until a few days after a child has consumed milk.
There are many foods that contain cow’s milk. Here are few examples: milk, margarine, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream. You will need to make note of any foods your child has eaten before they show signs of an allergic reaction.
If your child shows symptoms of a severe allergic reaction seek medical attention immediately. For mild allergic reactions, call your child’s doctor. Describe your child’s symptoms and what foods they have eaten. Your doctor or the nurse in the office, can determine when your child should be seen to be fully evaluated for a milk allergy.
There are a few ways in which pediatricians try to diagnose milk allergies in children. Milk allergies can sometimes be diagnosed through blood tests if the child is able to receive the blood test at the start of the allergic reaction. Skin prick tests can also be used to determine if a child has an allergy to milk. In many cases, a child’s pediatrician will diagnose a milk allergy by ruling out other illnesses. They will look at the child’s symptoms and consider any milk products that they had to eat or drink before their allergy. Other food allergies will be ruled out as well.
Children will often outgrow their milk allergy within a couple years. Many children will only experience milk allergies for the first five years of life or less. Of course, there are some children that have a lifelong allergy to milk and milk based products.
Milk allergies can generally not be directly treated, and there is no cure. A child and their parents must learn what foods must be avoided. Supplements might need to be used to make up for calcium and Vitamin D and other nutrients that a child would receive from milk. Your child’s pediatrician will probably give you a referral to meet with the dietician to help you plan healthy meals for your child without milk.