Milk Allergy In Infants

by Janet Trambill
(Ohio)

As with most infants, your baby is going to be fussy and perhaps even a bit cranky at times. What newborn or infant isn't?

New and seasoned moms deal with fussy newborns each and every day.

Sometimes, moms suspect their new bundles of joy are experiencing a cows’ milk allergy or intolerance. Of course breast feeding is the best, but this article will specifically deal with milk allergy in infants.

You're breastfeeding right now, and you might think it's the dairy or milk in your diet that’s causing discomfort or distress in your newborn or infant.

Or possibly the infant formula when you don’t get a chance to feed on a regular basis, or pump when needed.

Even though a milk allergy in infants is much less common than most people think, it still affects 3 percent of the newborn population. With an estimated 4 million births per year, that accounts for about 120,000 babies being directly affected by cow milk. And some think that milk intolerance is even more rare.

But we must ask ourselves why are we still offering cow milk, this milk from another animal, to our infants and babies, and even toddlers? There's much confusion to the issues of milk allergy and milk intolerance.

Milk Allergy vs. Milk Intolerance



A milk allergy is when your baby’s immune system reacts in a negative way to proteins in cow milk. This can manifest itself in these ways:

  • Abdominal pain or colic-like symptoms
  • Blood in stool
  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive crying and irritability after feedings
  • Hives
  • No weight gain
  • Skin rash
  • Spitting up
  • Stuffy and/or runny nose
  • Swelling of mouth and throat
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes

    It could also mean your baby is reacting to the dairy or cow milk you consume. These dairy proteins are the culprit and can pass from the mother's breast milk to the infant. Your baby immune system sees the proteins in the cowl milk and acts accordingly. The body releases histamine and other chemicals, which causes these allergic symptoms. Switching from breast milk, to cow milk, to formula and wreak havoc on your little one's stomach.

    If you suspect your baby has symptoms of either a milk allergy or milk intolerance, it's always best to see your pediatrician. The doctor should be a complete physical exam and discuss your family's history of allergies.

    If you’re breastfeeding (and I hope you are, or at least pumping and storing your milk for later use), you can probably reduce or eliminate dairy in your diet.

    Small changes like this can have a great and positive effect on the fussiness of your newborn or infant. It might be the last thing you want to do, but it could resolve the issue.

    If you are feeding your baby formula, you may want to switch to a different formula. Always contact your pediatrician when making any changes. And look at the ingredients. Some formulas can contain soy or goat milk. Frying pan into the fire kind of thing.

    Your pediatrician might suggest a hydrolysate formula which is less likely to cause a reaction.

    Be cued in when your baby seems fussy or something is out of the ordinary. This can take some time to develop a pattern, especially with new moms. They may not know what to look for right off the bat. Be ready to think about a possible milk allergy in your infant and take the right measures to ensure your baby is happy and healthy.

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