All About Milk Allergy In Babies – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Milk is equivalent to baby food. After all, babies survive on milk, starting with breastmilk and eventually moving to cow’s milk. While breastmilk is safe and goes well with babies, cow milk and formula could cause an allergic reaction. Such a condition is referred to as milk allergy and is quite common in babies.

Milk allergy is the condition when the body’s immune system mistakes the milk protein to be a pathogen and attacks it. Since the immune system behaves defensively, like it would when fighting a pathogen, the body displays symptoms of an illness.

The physiology of the condition is that when food passes into the small intestine, the immune system takes it to be a foreign body and attacks it, causing an allergic reaction.

Adulteration in formula milk nowadays is one of the reasons for babies developing formula milk as their developing immune system cannot take much of processed ingredients.

Genetics and environmental factors seem to be the fundamental cause of food allergies, while other factors increase an infant’s risk of developing milk allergy.


There is a certain condition which will make your baby prone to getting milk allergies, these are the following kind of groups:

1.A family history of allergies:

A baby has high chances of developing food allergies if the parents have a food allergy.
Repeated early exposure: A baby who is excessively given cow’s milk at an early age can develop milk allergy.

2.Being firstborn:

In studies, it has shown that firstborns are more prone to food allergies than the subsequent babies.
Asthma and eczema: Children suffering from asthma and eczema have a higher risk of food allergies such as milk allergy.

3.Presence of other food allergies:

If the baby has other food allergies, they may be allergic to milk as well, so be extra careful before giving them cow’s milk.


The symptoms appear a few minutes to several hours after the consumption of milk or milk products. A baby with milk allergy will have the following signs:

  • Skin hives/ rashes.
  • Swelling of the face.
  • Shortness of breath and coughing.
  • Stuffiness and runny nose.
  • Abdominal discomfort.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Colic and fussiness.


Milk allergy is diagnosed using the following two methods:

1.Skin prick test:

It is also called a percutaneous test. Here a small quantity of diluted allergen, milk protein, in this case, is injected into the upper layers of the skin. If the infant is allergic to the substance, then they will display an itchy bump that would develop at the site of injection, thus indicating an allergy.

2.Blood test:

A blood test will check for the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which are present in the case of a food allergy. Blood test provides an accurate diagnosis.

These are two is a simple diagnostic test which will confirm that whether your kid has an allergy or not.

Treatment of milk allergy is often the biggest concern for the parents, making them anxious and uncertain about their child’s growth and development.


The following foods are excellent, nutritionally equivalent, substitutes for cow milk:
Breastmilk: Breastmilk also makes an excellent substitute to cow’s milk for as long as you can feed your baby.

1.Soy-milk formula:

Soy-milk formula is manufactured from soy protein that is derived from soybean. It is naturally free from milk proteins and thus an ideal alternative for babies with milk allergy.

2.Calcium-rich vegetables:

Milk is a good source of calcium for growing babies. However, you can get adequate quantities of calcium from vegetables too. All green leafy vegetables and beans contain significant quantities of calcium. Most vegetables can be safely introduced to babies at the age of six months.

3.Meat and eggs:

Meat contains several micronutrients while eggs are an excellent source of vitamins. Meat, except fish, is safe to introduce at the age of six months. Eggs and fish can be introduced once the infant is a year old.

4.Hydrolyzed formula:

In this hypoallergenic formula, the milk protein is broken down into smaller amino acid chains that do not elicit an immune system response.

Your baby won’t miss the nutrition provided by milk when you substitute it with equally nutritious solid foods. But did you know that milk protein could be hiding in foods where you least expect it?

Milk allergy is not just allergy to liquid milk, but also to other milk or dairy products. Milk proteins are found in some non-dairy, packaged products. The following is the list of products to avoid when the baby has a milk allergy :

  • All dairy products including cheese, cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and milk desserts like custard
  • Chocolates and candies
  • Baked products, especially milk bread
  • Foods containing casein, whey, and lactose
  • Creams and sour creams
  • Canned fish; it often contains added milk proteins for better taste


Doctors with their experience, state that infants can outgrow milk allergy by the time they are three to four years old. However, some continue to be allergic to milk until they are in their teenage.
About 80% of the total population of children outgrow milk allergy by the time they are 16 years old. The chances of that depend on the severity of the allergy the child has.

How Is Milk Allergy In Babies Treated?

Milk allergies can only be managed but not treated. Here is how it can be managed:

1. Antihistamines:

These medicines work milk allergy symptoms such as swelling, hives, runny nose, and abdominal pain.

2. Epinephrine:

Also called adrenaline, epinephrine is a hormone that controls an anaphylactic shock. It is administered through an auto-injector when a baby sustains anaphylaxis.

3. Avoidance of milk by mother:

In the case of breastfed infants, a mother can consider avoiding milk as long as her infant is reliant on breastmilk.


There is no single and specific method to prevent the onset of milk allergy. However, you can take precautions to minimize the risk of a baby developing a milk allergy:

  • While this does not guarantee the prevention of milk allergy, it reduces the chances of it, you can start introducing milk after 12 months.
  • Do not start with a bottle full of it instead, start with small quantities so that the body gets adequate time to get used to the new food. Also, if the baby turns out to be allergic, a small quantity of milk may elicit a weaker allergic reaction.

Milk allergy in infants can cause an important point of concern for parents.

Choosing the correct alternatives such as soy formula, nutrient-rich vegetables, and meat can ensure that your baby gets the required nutrition through a balanced diet. Your baby may outgrow milk allergy by mid-teenage. But if they continue to have a milk allergy, then continue using alternatives to keep the child safe and healthy life.

Everything has an alternative and an effective solution in today’s medical science, so stay calm parents and help your kid to achieve a healthy life.

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