Milk allergy is basically the reaction of the immune system to the proteins contained in the milk of cows. The immune system of some babies won’t react to the milk proteins normally. It spots the milk components as some hazardous thing and attempts to fight them. This condition is termed as milk allergy and is mostly seen in small babies. It generally goes away when the child reaches 2 to 3 years. It is usually exposed just after consuming milk.
The symptoms differ with each individual and the disease level. The common symptoms include vomiting, stomach upset, rashes on the skin, wheezing, behaving fussy, hives etc. They can affect various body parts such as skin, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular and respiratory system. Area of effect and symptoms change depending upon the individual. The child with milk allergy needs more attention, mainly in diet. You have to give them enough proteins by other means.
The main reason for milk allergy is the protein content. All milk products cause the same reaction in the allergic patients. If they consume milk products, their immune system restricts the milk protein. It misunderstands that it will be harmful to the body. Thus the immune system creates antibodies to fight with the protein content. They are also called immunoglobulin. The chemical substances released such as histamine are the main cause for the symptoms.
Although these proteins are the building blocks of the body i.e. they are necessary for the growth of cells, since the bodies of people are different from each other, some people develop allergies to milk protein (whey or casein). You should know that whey makes up, only 20% of the cow’s milk and further it has two components namely beta lactaglobulin and alpha lactalbumin. All age groups can catch a milk allergy but infants and children are the more likely targets and according to an estimate 2 to 3 % of infants become allergic to milk.
One of the best ways of preventing any allergy is by stopping the intake of the stuff which your body is unwilling to accept and which your immune system is likely to treat as a foreign agent. If you have milk allergy then you need to be extra cautious when buying the packaged milk. You should read the label of the bottle with care so as to make sure that it does not contain those proteins to which your body is allergic.
There are plenty of substitutes of cow’s milk which you can make use of if you have allergy. There are many such products which are good replacements of milk because they contain calcium but do not contain casein which is the main cause of allergy in many patients. There are also recipes which you can prepare if you want to avoid the intake of cow’s milk. These recipes have water and juices as their main ingredients.
What Exactly is Your Child Allergic To?
Casein is the main protein found in milk. It is found in the solid part of milk called curd. Whey, the liquid that remains once the curd is removed, contains the rest of the proteins. Your child can be allergic to the proteins in the curd, the whey or both. The good news is the most kids outgrow milk allergy by age two or three.
Also Read: Foods to Increase Breast Milk Supply
Baby Milk Allergy Symptoms:
Milk allergies are typically discovered very early in formula and breast-fed babies. The symptoms seen in a milk allergy depend on whether or not the child has a slow or rapid reaction to milk. A slow reaction milk allergy occurs over several hours, sometimes days. Symptoms include diarrhea, often with streaks of blood, wheezing, and rashes or eczema flares. A rapid reaction milk allergy can occur within seconds to hours. Symptoms include severe wheezing, vomiting and hives.
Symptoms of milk allergy are more likely to affect the skin, the respiratory system and the digestive system. When the skin reacts adversely to milk you will experience swelling of the lips, throat and face. Rashes and hives are other problems of this allergy. Abdominal cramp, diarrhea and vomiting are three common symptoms associated with milk allergy.
Baby Milk Allergy Treatment Options:
The only treatment for a child with a milk allergy is to completely avoid milk and foods that contain milk products. If a mother is nursing, pediatricians recommend that the mother avoid all milk products and instead take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
If your baby is formula fed, pediatricians recommend a soy-based formula. The switch to soy formula helps for about half of the baby’s allergic to milk. For those babies who still have reactions to milk proteins, pediatricians recommend hypoallergenic formulas like Alimentum, Pregestimil, Neocate, and Elecare.
Also Read: How to Breastfeed Newborn
Avoiding Milk in Processed Foods:
The first step to avoiding milk in processed foods is to learning how to read labels and becoming familiar with ingredients that contain milk or dairy products. Be careful of any ingredients that begin with “lac” such as lactose, lactate, lactalbumin, and lactic acid, and also fat replacers such as Simplese.
Food and ingredients that contain milk include yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, anything with cesein, or whey, butter and, sadly chocolate. Foods that contain common allergens must be listed in language on the ingredient list, but there are still some things to watch out for when reading food labels.
Watch out for the words “may contain”. Milk may not be an ingredient, but the food may be made in a factory which also produces foods made with milk. If you see the words “may contain,” there may be very little of the allergen or there could be a large amount.
A Healthy Diet Without Milk:
There are several brands of soy and rice milks that are enriched with calcium. They can be used for drinking and to pour on cereal. If milk is part of a recipe just to provide liquid, you can substitute water. Soy and rice milk, as well as fruit juice, work well when substituting while baking. Oils, milk-free margarines, and soy butter can take the place of butter.
Your baby can still have a healthy diet and continue to enjoy some childhood favorites. The main nutrients found in milk are protein, calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin. It is important to either take supplement or eat foods that are high in these elements.
There’s a lot of protein in poultry, fish, beans, nuts and seeds. Ask your pediatrician about calcium and vitamin D supplements. Good sources of riboflavin are meat or enriched cereals, and dark green leafy vegetables. Many foods such as bread and orange juice are now supplemented with calcium and vitamin D.
Milk Allergy Vs Lactose Intolerance:
Is lactose intolerance the same thing as a milk allergy? Not at all, lactose intolerance only affects the digestive tract and causes symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. A milk allergy, however, is most commonly diagnosed in young children and is an immune system reaction to the proteins in milk.
Our immune systems normally respond to bacteria or viruses that attck the body, but sometimes the body’s immune system mistakenly believes that a harmless substance, like the proteins found in milk, are harmful.
Consult a Doctor:
Before consulting a doctor, make sure that it is milk allergy itself. There are various other diseases like lactose intolerance with the same symptoms. If the doctor confirms that it is milk allergy, you will be guided to consult an allergy specialist. They perform certain tests to identify the disease severity and level.
If your child is in the initial condition a skin test is enough. It is performed by making the skin subjected to milk drops. If the skin reacts by turning red or bursting in rashes, it is surely due to milk allergy. If the condition is worse, blood test is needed. There are also chances of spreading this disease through heritage. Make sure that you are consulting the doctor in the initial phase itself. If you didn’t care about it, chances of the disease getting worse are more.