What are the symptoms of a milk protein allergy? How is a milk protein allergy different from lactose intolerance? Can an allergy to milk protein be cured? And what needs to be done to diagnose milk protein allergy in infants?
Milk protein allergy: That says the pediatrician Dr. Nadine Hess
It is very rare: About three percent of all babies suffer from a real food allergy – if they do, then in most cases it is to (cow) milk protein or eggs. A milk protein allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance. In the case of lactose intolerance, there is an enzyme deficiency for splitting the milk sugar, in the case of a milk protein allergy, a real allergy.
Milk protein allergy – these are the symptoms
Symptoms of milk protein allergy in infants vary widely. Some children with milk protein allergy have persistent diarrhea from birth or vomit repeatedly, react with redness around the mouth, others have severe atopic eczema (neurodermatitis). Still, other babies with a milk protein allergy are conspicuous by respiratory infections with obstructive bronchitis and constant colds.
These supposed colds are not infections, but symptoms of an allergic reaction. Some children show abnormalities immediately after eating, as mentioned above, and others only after several days.
Diagnosis of a milk protein allergy
The diagnosis of a true milk protein allergy is not easy and is based primarily on the clinical presentation and the improvement in symptoms after stopping cow’s milk. A milk protein allergy usually shows up very early – when the child is still being breastfed or fed with formula food. If you suspect a milk protein allergy, you will ask the mother (in the case of fully breastfed children) to refrain from all dairy products (including goat’s milk, etc.) for two weeks.
If the child is given formula food, it must be switched to a special food prescribed by the doctor. The period of two weeks is necessary and useful so that late reactions can also be recorded because they sometimes only show up after several days or improve after some time if the allergen is left out.
Allergy and skin prick tests are useful if a milk protein allergy is suspected
In addition, an allergy test in the blood (rest and determination of IgE) is useful in the case of a milk protein allergy and a prick test on the skin. Confusingly, a cow’s milk allergy can also exist in the case of negative allergy tests – if the child has otherwise shown classic symptoms that improve significantly or even disappear completely if they are omitted.
Is milk protein allergy curable?
It is important to know that 90 percent of all milk protein allergies disappear by school age. From the second year of life, re-exposure attempts should be made at regular intervals under medical supervision: milk is given again in small, constantly increasing quantities.
I think that a child with urgent suspicion of a milk protein allergy should be cared for by an experienced pediatric allergist. In addition, nutritional advice tailored to the child’s needs is necessary to ensure an adequate intake of calcium in particular.