Milk Allergy in Infants

Research shows that cow milk causes an allergic reaction in about 2-8% of the infants. The main reason behind such a reaction is that the immune system of babies sees milk protein as something which could harm the body, and hence, tries to fight it off, producing an allergic reaction in the process. Here are the symptoms of this condition.


Diarrhea could be one of the signs of milk allergy, if it continues for more than a week, and the child eliminates watery stools up to four times in a day. Another symptom is presence of blood in the stools.

Rashes on Skin
This condition can produce rashes on the baby’s skin. The rashes can show up all over the body, or remain restricted to a few areas. Sometimes they can be accompanied by swelling on the facial region too.

If the child is spitting out bits of his food, it is quite normal, as most babies do that. However, any deviation or increase in this act could signal a milk allergy.

Less Weight Gain
By the time a baby is six months old, his weight is almost doubled. Since the mainstay of his diet is milk, it is the main factor contributing to the weight gain. However, if an infant has this condition, he would be constantly suffering from diarrhea, or he might be vomiting out most of what he consumes. In such a scenario, there would not be adequate weight gain.

This condition can cause excessive gas in a baby. Although most babies do suffer from gas, but an allergy to milk protein can cause a severe gas problem.

Persistent Crying
It is but natural for all babies to cry. However, if the baby cries continuously and that too without any reason, it could be that he is experiencing abdominal pain caused by an allergic reaction to the milk protein.

Respiratory Problems
Many infants experience cold symptoms but if the child is producing a continuous wheezing sound, and has trouble breathing due to abnormal mucus production, it could be due to an allergic reaction to the proteins.


In order to confirm that a child has milk allergy, the method of elimination/ reintroduction is used. In this method, milk is completely removed from the baby’s diet for some time. Once the symptoms associated with milk allergy go away, milk is reintroduced into the baby’s diet. If the symptoms present themselves again, then it is confirmed that the child suffers from this condition.

Medical tests such as skin prick tests, as well as blood tests such as, RAST, CAP, and EAST, are also used to identify milk allergies in babies.

Once the allergy is diagnosed through these tests, the first thing to do will be to eliminate milk and other dairy products completely from the baby’s diet. The mother should continue breast feeding the baby as breast milk allergy in infants is very rare. However, if the mother is herself consuming cow’s milk, then it can produce symptoms of this condition in the baby. So along with the child, the mother too should discontinue it from her diet.

Alternatives such as soy protein formula, extensively hydrolyzed formula, or amino acid based formula, can be included in the diet. Certain medications such as antihistamines are also recommended by doctors to reduce the allergic reaction in the baby.

Read more on:

  • Milk Allergy Symptoms
  • Milk Allergy Diet

Most milk allergies go away on their own by the time the child turns three or four. So milk can be reintroduced in the child’s diet at that time, but only after consulting a doctor.

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