Everything About Milk Allergy and Infants

Sometimes, infants behave in a fussy manner not because it’s in their nature but because of an allergy to milk proteins. Since most commercial baby formulas use milk as a base, this kind of an allergy develops in about 2 to 3% of the babies. While most are capable of outgrowing the allergy within a few years, some kids just do not grow out of it.

Typically, a milk allergy occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes milk proteins as a threat and fights them off. This causes infants to behave irritable and fussy depicting symptoms such as stomach upset and pain. Moreover, most kids allergic to cow’s milk tend to be equally allergic to sheep’s or goat’s milk. Some even show allergy against soy protein in soy milk. However, it is believed that infants that are breastfed show a lower risk of acquiring this allergy but overall researchers are still dumbfounded as to why it develops. Indications are that it is mostly genetic in nature. An important point to note here is that milk allergy and lactose intolerance are two entirely different issues.

How To Find Out If Your Baby Has Milk Allergy – The Symptoms

Allergy to cow’s milk protein may take time to appear or it may happen suddenly. Regardless of when it affects infants, the usual period of occurrence is in the first months of life. It can even manifest itself soon after starting the child on a cow’s milk based formula.

Symptoms may arise rapidly or slowly after 7 to 10 days of starting consumption of cow’s milk. The former is called a rapid onset while the latter is called a slower onset. The same symptoms are also possible in breastfeeding infants if the mother consumes cow’s milk.

Symptoms such as vomiting, refusing food, gagging, loose stool with occasional blood, skin rashes such as eczema and colic or irritability are common in a slower onset of milk allergy. This is the most common form of milk allergy and it is mighty hard to diagnose simply because many other conditions or diseases depict a similar reaction. Thankfully, most infants would lose their allergy within 2 years while others recover completely by the time they reach their adolescence.

Milk Allergy

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In a rapid onset, symptoms appear all of a sudden and may include itchy bumps, diarrhea, swelling, hives, vomiting, wheezing, or irritability. Anaphylaxis commonly observed in other allergies such as tree nut or peanut allergies is not usually associated with milk allergy in infants but it is not unheard of. This is a dangerous condition that if not immediately treated can become fatal.

How Doctors Diagnose Milk Allergies In Infants – The Proof

Unfortunately no single test can prove milk allergy in infants. Doctors prefer doing physical examinations, testing and direct experimentation to deduce a conclusion.

Blood and stool tests are known to prove milk allergies but the best test doctors rely on is the wheal test. In this test, doctors inject a little milk protein right beneath the skin surface of the infant and wait to see if a raised bump called a wheal arises. This increases the chance of having milk allergies but a final test is needed before confirmation.

If the wheal test comes out positive, doctors prefer to actually feed milk protein based formula and observe the symptoms before giving their diagnosis.

Simon Jackson loves to share tips about milk allergy (interesting to know is that the Danish term is mælkeallergi) treatments, especially for infants. You can also find him blogging in Labho.com.

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