Your guide to Milk Allergy In babies

Some babies suffer from a milk allergy, whether it is cow’s milk or in some cases mother’s milk. What causes milk allergy in babies? What are the symptoms of milk allergy? And what are the best ways to deal with this type of allergy? Read on to find out

Dr. Marwa Yahfouf
Published on:Apr 20th 2022 |Updated on:Apr 10th 2024
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 Can an infant be allergic to breast milk?

In some rare cases, where the baby is suffering from a digestive problem, such as an allergy to Phenylalanine, an amino acid present in the mother’s milk, there is a possibility for allergy to breast milk. In these rare cases, the only solution is to replace breastfeeding with formula.

Other than that mother’s milk allergy is still possible since each woman’s milk is different and is directly affected by her diet.

The most common allergy in babies is cow’s milk allergy. In cases where the infant is allergic to cow’s milk and his breastfeeding mother consumes milk and other dairy products, or any food containing milk, this will make the baby uncomfortable after feeding due to the allergens present in the breast milk.

Signs of Cow’s milk allergy in Infants

- Constant and repeated crying and fussiness.

- Severe acid reflux and repeated vomiting.

- Colic

- Abdominal discomfort and bloating

- Refusal of breastfeeding, as the baby associates it with acidity and pain.

- Severe diarrhea or constipation.

- Slow weight gain, due to not feeding and constantly vomiting.

- The presence of blood in stool, is the key symptom in diagnosing cow’s milk allergy in infants.

To ease these symptoms, I advise breastfeeding mothers to reduce their consumption of milk and dairy products. As for the cases where the baby has blood in stool, I advise mothers to completely stop the consumption of milk and dairy products, in addition to any foods containing milk such as certain types of bread and certain cakes, to protect the baby from the symptoms of milk allergy.

In case this cessation is not possible, then the baby can be fed using hypoallergenic formula. Most baby formulae are made of cow’s milk, but some are in a hypoallergenic way, as the milk proteins are broken down to amino acids, which prevents milk allergy symptoms in babies.

It is noteworthy that baby formulae made of goat’s milk or soy are not a healthy alternative for babies allergic to milk, because there is a huge cross resemblance with cow’s milk.

Diagnosing milk allergy in babies

This type of allergy is diagnosed only through symptom observation. No blood test reveals the existence of this type of allergy in babies.

Outgrowing Cow’s milk allergy

Many babies outgrow milk allergy by their first birthday, most of them will outgrow it by age six, and very few will carry it through adulthood.

Causes of Milk Allergy in Infants

There is no clear medical reason why infants have a milk allergy, while others are not affected by other types of foods passed to them through breast milk. One theory indicates that because of the long duration humans have consumed milk, and because of relying on it for so long in feeding babies, this allergy is more known and spread than other types of food allergies.

The Effect of milk allergy on Children’s health

The complete elimination of milk and milk-derived products, from the diet of a child allergic to milk, will prevent any further health complications.

As mentioned earlier most babies outgrow this allergy between the age of one and six years.

In case the child has additional allergies, such as being allergic to gluten, or nuts, this might cause a deficiency in certain nutrients. So, in such cases I recommend following up with a dietitian, to ensure that the child has the needed nutrients from alternative sources. It is worth mentioning that any deficiency in nutrients found in milk, such as Calcium and Vitamin D, can be supplemented from other sources.

Treatment of milk allergy in infants

Until now there is no proven and efficient treatment for milk allergy. Treatments are available to treat Lactose intolerance but can’t be used to treat milk allergies. As it is very rare that infants develop this type of sensitivity in our region. So, the use of lactose-free formulae and Lactase supplements won’t be necessary, unless there is strong genetic evidence that the baby is Lactose intolerant. The lactase enzyme which is responsible for digesting Lactose is weakened by the lack of use, we can say about Lactase if you don’t use it, you lose it! Therefore, I don’t recommend the complete elimination of Lactose to keep this key enzyme active and efficient.


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Dr. Marwa YahfoufPediatrician

Dr.Marwa is a pediatrician, She received her Doctor in Medicine degree from the American University of Beirut. Then she completed her pediatric residency at Kansas University School of Medicine. She is an American board-certified pediatrician. Doctor Marwa currently practices at Clemenceau medical center in Dubai. With many years of experience in pediatric medicine, Dr.Marwa considers herself to be the child's advocate and the parent's friend. She has a great passion for children’s health and a special interest in general pediatrics and preventive care. In addition to protecting children from disease through vaccines. Dr.Marwa applies the latest medical recommendations, based on the most recent medical research and studies. To ensure offering the best care for her little patients, and to oversee children’s health and growth positively.

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