Milk Allergy in Infants

Though milk allergy can occur in all people, it is especially common in infants and very young children. Some 2-3% of children under the age of three suffer from milk allergy, but most outgrow it with time. Milk allergy leads to the immune system of your child seeing the proteins in milk as something harmful that should be warded off. This results in an allergic reaction in the body.

Now, most formula food for babies consists of cow’s milk, and that is why it can cause a reaction in your baby’s body. Though allergies to cow’s milk are most common, children who are allergic to cow’s milk are often allergic to milk from other species as well, such as sheep or goat. As it is protein that is the culprit here, these children may also be allergic to soy milk, which contains a host of proteins.

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The symptoms of milk allergy in infants will manifest themselves very early in life. This may occur within days of weeks of the child being given formula food. It is onset of the allergy that differs from child to child, and some will show immediate symptoms, such as rashes, hives, irritability, colic, vomiting, bloody stools and diarrhoea, while others will take some time to display the same symptoms. Of the two, slower onset of milk allergy is more common.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your child, it is time to consult the doctor. Be ready with information about allergies in your family when you make this visit to the doctor (often, milk allergy is genetic in nature). Milk allergy may not always be the villain here, so the doctor will probably conduct a number of tests to be sure of what is causing the problem. These tests may include a stool test, blood test and also a skin test. If the doctor feels it is safe to do so, he or she may ask you to let your child consume some milk under the doctor’s supervision: the child will be monitored for any symptoms of milk allergy that may develop over the next few hours.

The next step is treating a milk allergy. This usually means eliminating dairy from your diet. If you happen to be breastfeeding your child, you will also have to stop consuming dairy products, as they may pass over into the breast milk and may cause allergic reactions in your child.

Avoiding milk and milk products in baby foods is easier today because of government regulations that make it mandatory for all manufacturers of baby food to clearly mention on the package whether the ingredients include milk of any sort. First, soy milk may be tried as a substitute for cow’s milk, but as has been mentioned above, some babies are allergic to the proteins in soy as well. This is nothing to worry about: there are many hypoallergenic formulas of baby food which are made keeping in mind the needs of babies and children who are allergic to milk. These contain milk in a partly or wholly hydrolysed form, but sometimes, they may also trigger an allergic reaction in children. Finally, some baby foods contain protein in its simplest form: amino acids. These are sure to cause no allergy in your child.

Simon Peters shares really valuable tips about dealing with cow’s milk allergy (interesting to know is that the Danish term is kom√¶lksallergi) in infants in various blogs.

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