What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

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

What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

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


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 causes a milk protein allergy in infants

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.


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

en españolAlergia a la leche en bebés

What Is a Milk Allergy?

When a baby is allergic to milk, it means that his or herimmune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in cow’s milk.

Every time the kid has milk, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders and works hard to fight them. This causes an allergic reaction in which the body releases chemicals love .

Cow’s milk is in most baby formulas. Babies with a milk allergy often show their first symptoms days to weeks after they first get cow milk-based formula. Breastfed infants own a lower risk of having a milk allergy than formula-fed babies.

People of any age can own a milk allergy, but it’s more common in young children.

What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

Numerous kids outgrow it, but some don’t.

If your baby has a milk allergy, hold two epinephrine auto-injectors on hand in case of a severe reaction (called anaphylaxis). An epinephrine auto-injector is an easy-to-use prescription medicine that comes in a container about the size of a large pen. Your doctor will show you how to use it.

How Is a Milk Allergy Diagnosed?

If you ponder your baby is allergic to milk, call your baby’s doctor.

What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

He or she will enquire you questions and talk to you about what’s going on. After the doctor examines your baby, some stool tests and blood tests might be ordered. The doctor may refer you to an allergist (a doctor who specializes in treating allergies).

The allergist might do skin testing. In skin testing, the doctor or nurse will put a tiny bit of milk protein on the skin, then make a little scratch on the skin. If your kid reacts to the allergen, the skin will swell a little in that area love an insect bite.

If the allergist finds that your baby is at risk for a serious allergic reaction, epinephrine auto-injectors will be prescribed.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Milk Allergy?

In children who show symptoms shortly after they own milk, an allergic reaction can cause:

  1. wheezing
  2. itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
  3. trouble breathing
  4. stomach upset
  5. hoarseness
  6. throat tightness
  7. hives
  8. coughing
  9. vomiting
  10. swelling
  11. diarrhea
  12. a drop in blood pressure causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness

The severity of allergic reactions to milk can vary.

The same kid can react differently with each exposure. This means that even though one reaction was mild, the next could be more severe and even life-threatening.

Children also can have:

  1. an intolerance to milk in which symptoms — such as loose stools, blood in the stool, refusal to eat, or irritability or colic — appear hours to days later
  2. lactose intolerance, which is when the body has trouble digesting milk

If you’re not certain if your kid has an intolerance versus an allergy, talk to your doctor.

If Your Kid Has an Allergic Reaction

If your kid has symptoms of an allergic reaction, follow the food allergy action plan your doctor gave you.

If your kid has symptoms of a serious reaction (like swelling of the mouth or throat or difficulty breathing, or symptoms involving two diverse parts of the body, love hives with vomiting):

  1. Give the epinephrine auto-injector correct away.

    What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

    Every second counts in an allergic reaction.

  2. Then,call or take your kid to the emergency room. Your kid needs to be under medical supervision because, even if the worst seems to own passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.

Avoiding a Milk Allergy Reaction

If You’re Breastfeeding

If your breastfed baby has a milk allergy, talk to the allergist before changing your diet.

If You’re Formula Feeding

If you’re formula feeding, your doctor may advise you to switch to an extensively hydrolyzed formulaor an amino acid-based formula in which the proteins are broken below into particles so that the formula is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.

You also might see "partially hydrolyzed" formulas, but these aren’t truly hypoallergenic and can lead to a significant allergic reaction.

If you’re concerned about a milk allergy, it’s always best to talk with your child’s doctor and work together to select a formula that’s safe for your baby.

Do not attempt to make your own formula.

Commercial formulas are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug istration (FDA) and created through a extremely specialized process that cannot be duplicated at home. Other types of milk that might be safe for an older kid with a milk allergyare not safe for infants.

If you own any questions or concerns, talk with your child’s doctor.

What is cow’s milk protein allergy?

Cow’s milk protein allergy is an allergic condition which is triggered by drinking cow’s milk or by drinking or eating products made from cow’s milk.

It can cause:

  1. Skin symptoms, such as rashes and eczema
  2. Gut (digestive tract) symptoms, such as feeling ill (nausea), being ill (vomiting) and abdominal (tummy) pain
  3. Breathing (respiratory) symptoms, such as a runny nose and wheezing.

The symptoms are often vague and sometimes it is extremely hard for a definite diagnosis to be made.

Cow’s milk protein allergy occurs in about 7% of babies who own formula milk, but in only about % of exclusively breast-fed babies, who also generally own milder reactions.

Exclusive breast-feeding may also protect babies from developing an allergy to cow’s milk protein after they are weaned.

Cow’s milk protein allergy is more likely in children who own other allergic (or atopic) conditions such as asthma, eczema or hay fever, or if shut family members own those conditions.


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:

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


Symptoms of cows’ milk allergy

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

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

What causes a milk protein allergy in infants

A severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, is a medical emergency – call or go immediately to your local hospital A&E department.


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