Milk: A common allergy in infants

Is your baby having reaction to breast milk? Does your child have rashes, colic or trouble breathing after milk formula or dairy? This could be a sign of a milk allergy. Milk allergies are most common in babies and young children, affecting around 2.5% of kids under three years old. Although most children outgrow this condition, it can persist in some and continue into adulthood.


What is a Milk Allergy?

A milk allergy occurs when your immune system reacts abnormally to milk and dairy products. When this happens, proteins in the milk connect with specific antibodies made by your immune system. This causes your body to defend itself, leading to symptoms that can range from mild to severe. 

Recognizing the Symptoms of Milk Allergy

Milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms can appear immediately after consuming milk or several hours later. The most common symptoms of milk allergy include:

  1. Skin reactions: hives, eczema, or rash
  2. Digestive problems: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or blood in the stools
  3. Respiratory problems: wheezing, coughing, or runny nose
  4. Anaphylaxis: a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause swelling of the tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure

It’s important to remember that a milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance, which affects your stomach and is usually not life-threatening. Milk allergy that can potentially cause anaphylaxis is the most well-known type, but there are other types such as FPIES (food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome) and eosinophilic esophagitis which a board-certified allergist will be familiar with. That’s why it’s crucial to be evaluated by a specialist.

Where is Milk Found?

Cow’s milk proteins are found in a host of foods, making milk one of the most difficult allergens to avoid.

Check all food labels for milk, and maintain a wary eye for the following, which may indicate the presence of milk protein such as artificial butter flavor, butter, butter fat, buttermilk solids, caramel color, caramel flavoring, casein, caseinate, cheese, cream, curds, demineralized whey, “de-lactosed” whey, flavoring and natural flavoring, fully cream milk powder, galactose, ghee, high protein flavor/flour, lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactic acid, lactic acid starter culture, lactose, rennet casein, rice cheese, solids, sour cream, sour milk solids, whey, whey powder, whey protein, and yogurt.
Examples of foods that may contain milk protein include batter-fried foods, biscuits, bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, chocolate, cookies, cream sauces, cream soups, custard, fish in batter, gravies and gravy mixes, ice cream, imitation sour cream, instant mashed potatoes, margarine, muesli, muffins, nonmilk fat, packaged soups, pies, puddings, rusks (biscuits), sausages, sherbet, soy cheese, soup, sweets, and vegetarian cheese.


Milk Allergy Testing and Diagnosis

At Allergy Group NJ, we’ll work with you or your child to determine if a milk allergy is present beginning with a detailed medical history. From there, our food allergists will run a combination of skin tests, blood tests, and milk component blood testing to gain greater clarity about the risk for severe reactions and the actual tolerance of milk and dairy. This will help us develop a comprehensive, personalized milk allergy treatment plan to help you reclaim your quality of life.


A Personalized Milk Allergy Treatment Plan

Once we’ve properly diagnosed your condition, our adult and pediatric food allergist will work with you to create a personalized food allergy action plan. Depending on the severity of the condition, we may recommend avoiding milk and dairy products, or pursuing oral immunotherapy (OIT) for more persistent and severe cases.


Schedule a Consultation for Milk Allergy Testing and Treatment Today

Dr. Linden Ho and Dr. Sonia Guirguis are board-certified allergists providing devoted care to children and adults with milk allergies. Discover why patients of all ages come to us for milk allergy treatment plans.