Dairy allergy is one of the most common food allergies in infants and toddlers. Although any person may have allergy to dairy products, it is more common among babies. Dairy allergy is an abnormal response of the immune system to dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt etc. Majority of allergy cases among infants and toddlers occur due to protein present in cow’s milk. Milk from buffalo, goat, sheep etc can also cause allergy.
Babies having dairy allergy often tend to be fussy. They may also have gastric upsets. The symptoms appear few minutes or few hours after ingestion of milk and dairy products.Fortunately, most babies outgrow milk and other dairy product allergy in few years. Children who do not outgrow dairy allergy may have to avoid milk and other dairy products.
What Causes Dairy Allergy In Babies?
Allergies develop as a result of malfunction of immune system in the body. Allergy in true sense is an abnormal response of immune system to products and substances that normally in majority of people are harmless. In case of milk and dairy allergy, the immune system of the body recognizes certain protein in milk as harmful. After identifying it as harmful, the immune system sends antibodies IgE to neutralize the protein.
If you again come in contact with protein in dairy products, the antibodies will get activated triggering the release of histamines which is responsible for various allergy symptoms. Casein is the most common protein present in dairy product responsible for allergic reaction. Researchers believe there is genetic component involved in most cases of dairy allergy.
The risk of dairy allergy in baby increases if there is a family history of other allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, etc. Majority cases of milk allergy in children resolves as they grow up. The immune system as well as the digestive system begins to mature.
Dairy Allergy Symptoms In Babies
The symptoms of dairy allergy in infants appear within few months as the child is introduced to cow milk or milk based commercial products. The allergic symptoms may be rapid in onset or may take 5 to 6 days to develop after consumption of dairy products.
- Slow onset of allergic manifestation is more common than rapid onset. The immediate allergic reaction may include formation of hives, vomiting, wheezing, increased irritability in the child, diarrhea and blood in stool.
- Most cases of slow onset dairy allergy symptoms consist of; loose stools, vomiting, irritation, bloating, colic, and skin rashes around the mouth, running nose, watering from eyes.
- In some rare cases anaphylaxis a life threatening allergic reaction may occur. There may be changes in baby’s blood pressure, breathing, swelling in throat, and itching sensation.
How To Deal With Dairy Allergy In Babies?
The first step towards treating dairy allergy is to stop giving cow milk or other dairy products that are responsible for triggering allergy. If your infant or toddler has milk allergy and if he is breast feeding, the mother should avoid milk and dairy products. This is because the protein from mother may pass on to the baby from the breast milk. In such case, mother should find some other source of calcium after consulting her physician.
If the baby is formula fed, he may be required to switch over to soy based formulas as they are known to cause less allergic manifestation. The baby may also be switched over to hypoallergenic formula products that are available. In these products the protein is broken down into small particles which are less likely to trigger allergy.
Medications such as anti histamines may be needed in some cases where the baby has intolerable itching, hives, and other symptoms.