The World of Pregnancy

Allergy (Intolerance) To Cow`s Milk

Have you heard of cow`s milk allergy (intolerance)? This is an issue that needs more attention from you if you are planning to have a child.

allergy to cow's milk

What Is Cow`s Milk Allergy?

Cow`s milk allergy is among the most frequent allergies in children of small ages, affecting nearly 2% – 7.5% of children with ages of up to 5 years. It occurs after a few minutes from the ingestion of milk or dairy products, and only in rare situations after 2 – 3 days from the food`s consumption, where the “cause – effect” relationship isn`t so obvious, needing further investigation.

This syndrome is caused by a protein from the cow`s milk and needs to be distinguished from lactose intolerance, which is present in cow`s milk as well. The incidence presents an amazing variety from an interracial point of view. The onset of this medical condition may occur at in a child 6 months and spontaneous remission may occur up to 18 months. It`s not a test that can distinguish the condition from other enteropathies.

A milk allergy happens when the immune system of the child mistakenly “thinks” the milk protein is somehow harmful and tries to fight against it. This triggers an allergic reaction, which may cause a discomfort in the stomach, the baby may become irritable and agitated and other signs as well. Most children who are allergic to cow`s milk react, also, the same way to goat`s or sheep`s milk, and some of them are also allergic to soy milk protein.

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Milk is formed from proteins, water, vitamins, minerals, carbs or sugar and fats. A specific protein from cow`s milk is the one causing the allergy. The protein from cow`s milk which causes this allergic reaction may develop in the maternal and powder milk as well. Still, children who are breastfed have smaller chances to develop any kind of allergies, unlike those who are fed with powder milk.

  • Allergy to cow`s milk concerns first of all the child fed artificially.
  • It isn`t so clinically obvious, being diagnosed only by a specific serological test which outlines the presence of antibodies to these milk proteins.
  • Milk allergy can develop in both babies fed with powder milk as well as breastfed. – Click here!
  • This allergic reaction to cow`s milk protein is another type of intolerance, also to a component to this food.
  • It may also have skin and urticaria signs. The most typical symptom in infants is the occurrence of an eruption around the mouth, but other babies may experience sores throughout the entire body. Also, more rarely there are also asthma respiratory signs.

Could Breastfed Babies Experience Such Intolerances?

Unfortunately, yes! This situation isn`t common, but it was noticed that babies with such allergies to cow`s milk proteins exist, although they are only breastfed; the mother is a big consumer of dairy products – there are women who drink more than 2L of milk per day, maybe also in the false idea that this way they are able to produce more milk. It was noticed that if the serological test is performed, it may appear positive to breastfed babies as well. The solution is to ask the mother not to consume so many dairy products for a certain period of time, and this way the symptoms will disappear.

Diagnostic Criteria

  • The symptoms disappear after cow`s milk is eliminated.
  • The symptoms may occur within 48 hours after cow`s milk was consumed.
  • The reactions to ingestions need to be positive and identical from the point of view of the onset of the allergy and its duration.

Patients who suffer allergies caused by cow`s milk can be divided into 3 groups:

Group 1 – Rapid debut reactors (immediate):

The signs of these patients occur in only a few minutes or after an hour after they have ingested small amounts of cow`s milk.

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Group 2 – Slow debut reactors (intermediate):

These patients develop signs, like vomiting and diarrhea in only a few hours after ingesting moderate amounts of cow`s milk.

Group 3 – Late reactors:

These patients develop signs, like eczema, diarrhea, vomiting or asthma signs after around 24 hours or several days after ingesting a normal amount of cow`s milk.

The milk intake test involves the baby`s abstinence from milk for a few days. Cow`s milk needs to be given to the baby in doses of 5mL/kg. After 2 hours, the child should get 10 mL/kg. If allergy is present, the following will happen:

  • The amount of eosinophils is greater than 450/cmm.
  • A diarrhea episode.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hemorrhage in the stool.
  • Rash or anaphylactic reactions.
  • Important reduction in seat quantity.
  • An increase of body temperature by up to 38 – 40 Celsius.
  • Weight loss of more than 300 g in 36 hours.

How Is Cow`s Milk Allergy Treated?

The most efficient treatment is to avoid complete exposure to milk and its derivatives over a variable period of time, depending on the severity of the initial allergy signs. It may be up to 2 years of eviction, but there`re rare situations of allergy perpetuating in adult life. Instead of cow`s milk, it can be used partial or total hydrolysed formulas, tofu cheese, soybean or rice milk.

For allergy signs, antihistamines might be administered to doses appropriate to the age and weight of the child.

There`s also the possibility that after 4 – 5 years, the immune system has matured enough to remember the “lesson,” to be made a desensitization of cow`s milk.

As the best treatment is to prevent the situation, we recommend breastfeeding, and if there`s a history of allergies in the family, we recommend a slower diet diversification and under medical supervision.

Management & Awareness

Cow`s milk need to be replaced by other commercial foods, such as soy milk. As already mentioned, allergies may also occur to goat`s milk. Body solid and liquid dairy products need to not contain the cow`s milk protein that causes the allergy. Disaccharide intolerance may cause an intolerance of the milk protein which causes the allergic reaction. The need for a special diet disappears, usually, after the age of 2. You have to be aware of:

  • The milk allergy can be diagnosed by a skin allergy test.
  • Lactose intolerance is the main issue associated with the milk but, still, it can easily be solved.
  • Infants overcome milk allergy; this medical condition isn`t common in older children or adults.

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So, a newborn milk allergy is believed to be a specific medical condition that children manage to overcome. But still, this idea may mislead, and some children continue to have chronic signs due to the milk, although initially, the problem may disappear, the pattern of the illness changes, and leads doctors and parents to confusion. At least, we can say that some children have an allergic diathesis that persists and evolves with various manifestations. Milk allergy is frequent in adults, but is very rarely diagnosed.

Image courtesy of cowsmilkallergy.co.uk
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