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Is It a Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance? Should I Do What the Ped Says?

My daughter turned one year old on July 1st and we started giving her cow's milk around that time. I think she has a milk allergy because she gets a red rash on her face almost immediately after drinking milk or eating cheese and she has large amounts of loose stool a few hours later. We stopped the cow's milk and started soy milk about 2 weeks ago.

I saw her pediatrician today and kind of feel like he is minimizing the situation. He thinks that she is just lactose intolerant because she was able to tolerate foods that have SMALL amounts of milk in them (bread and her birthday cake). I think she is allergic rather than just intolerant, b/c of the rash on her face. As far as I know, lactose intolerance doesn't cause rashes, does it?

He says that I can try to reintroduce cow's milk, cheese, etc in one week, but that if she is tolerating soy milk without a problem, then I can just leave things alone. Well, I'm afraid to reintroduce cow's milk b/c what if she is actually allergic and has a more severe reaction? Do you think I should reintroduce dairy products like he recommends or should I just take her to see a specialist? Has anyone whose child had a suspected cow's milk allergy wait a few weeks to try dairy and had success?

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Does sound like an allergy. My son is intolerant and all it does is make him bloated and gassy and gives him diaper rash from the poop. We use rice milk with him.

I agree that you should go to an allergist or see a NAET doctor. I've done a lot of research on NAET, and it's fascinating. Haven't tried it yet, but thinking about it once we know my husband's job is stable again.

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Hi. I feel your frustration with dr's! My son is severely allergic to egg and milk. He had an anaphylactic reaction twice. His first reaction was at about 9 months when we gave him the mac and cheese baby food. His neck broke out in hives and around his mouth turned all red and he completely refused to eat it. Later that night he was wheezing. When I took him to the dr the next day they told me to rub cheese on his arm to see if there was a reaction. Well we never got the chance because when we gave him formula for the first time about a week later he threw up everywhere and has hives covering his body. My guess would be that you little one is lactose. But I am not sure. Next time touch her skin w/ cheese and wait to see if she breaks out in hives or gets a red splotch. I would then definitely get a second opinion frm a specialist. For some reason the pecs don't want to believe in the food allergies. A skin test with an allergist will definitely let you know. Good luck!!

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you're gotten some great responses. Yes there is a differnce between intolerance and alergy. Intolerance is usually just gas i believe. It would frustrate me when people thought my son was just intolerant, when he would scream from gas for 4 yrs, throw up, diaherrea (sp?), eczema (bright red cheeks)... been there.

Our Dr also said "no no no it can't be allergies". Apparently many parents believe their kids have allergies and don't and that's their first response. When i went to the Dr w/my son at 2 months with a PURPLE diaper rash he said "ahhhh. that's a food allergy diaper rash." (he showed severe allergy at 2 weeks through my breast milk, ended up egg w/anaphalexis and milk)

anyway. Soy has a female hormone that can encourage breast production and such so my opinion is to minimize that and do the soy.

Most kids out grow their allergies at 2. It took us till 3.5 (we had several others). In between our son could tolerate added milk in cookie mixes or whatever, but not direct.

so my advice? do what works for you. If you know its not life threatening you can give little bits and see what happens occasionally. I've been told yogurt is the least aggrevating, and things like cottage cheese are the worst.

you can go to an allergist, but if you already know the problem, what's the point in giving blood. Allergists are helpful, but the tests can also over diagnose allergies and from my experience allergies can actually change over the months to getting new ones etc...

do what feels right. Dr's don't know everything. : )

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I had a similar problem with my son. When he was about 15 months we tried giving him cows milk and he would get a rash on his face. We took him to the DR and they did a blood test to see if he was allergic and it turned out that he was. They also tested for egg and soy allergies. He was negative for those so he was put on soy milk and since his allergy was in the low range we were told to try yogurt and cheese every few weeks. He is now to the point where he only drinks soy milk but can tolerate a piece of cheese everyday. I would go back to the DR and ask for a blood test, it's not easy and my son did his fare share of crying but at least we knew for sure about the allergy and the test will show how severe the allergy is.

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My son went through the vomiting and diarrhea with milk/milk products starting right around 20 months. We had him tested and he was allergic to milk, eggs, oranges, and nuts. He was able to tolerate some milk--in products as you described but I had to limit it. If I let him have too much ice cream he may get crabby or a stomach ache and diarrhea=--never a severe reaction as you were afraid of. We started a new allergist when he turned 3 and he had outgrown everything except the nut allergy. I would suggest seeing an allergist(we have a good one in Naperville) and having her tested to see exactly what the culprit is. That way you can rest assured and discuss all your fears with a professional that KNOWS the facts. They also had to prescribe an Epi-pen for his nut allergies. Luckily I had tried peanut butter with him and he refused to eat it. I guess his body knew better!!

Good Luck!

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J.-I agree with the previous post-however-we do not have the digestive enzymes to digest dairy or soy. The body does not recognize it. We get more than enough Calcium per day eating 1/2 c. of fresh organic broccoli.

Also you will want to check out rice or almond milk for baby. Soy will mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and is not good for consumption except edemame.

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Ask your doctor to get you a work order for testing of the 10 most common allergens. It is a blood test (butterfly)that will tell you if she is allergic and what the severity is.You can go to Quest to have it done. make an appointment because you go in first.It will give you peace of mind.

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Sounds like he is intolerant and possibly allergic as well. My two older ones were tested (via urine) and it turned out they were intolerant to dairy. We've been drinking a combo of almond/rice/soy milk for 3 years now and couldn't be healthier (and happier). No more loose stools, upset tummies, etc.

Plus, many doctors believe that humans should not consume dairy - we're the only species who consumes milk from another mammal in the entire animal kingdom and the only species that consumes milk past infancy. Think about it!

If you need other tips on other non-dairy alternatives, please email me. Trust your instincts. Doctors mean well but don't have much nutrition education in medical school.

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I have two kiddos with life-threatening food allergies. So, I have been dealing with food allergies for 7 years. Just from what you have written, I would say go to an allergist and have your son skin tested to give you something more definitive. We love the group of pediatricians we use but, the only ones that seem to understand eczema and food allergies are the ones that have personal experience with it. Food allergy diagnoses have doubled since 1997. So, there have not been a lot of education on allergies in med schools, etc.. There is obviously something going on in the environment IMO. My son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy at 2 and the allergist told us then that he had tolerated it with minor side effects and told us to continue to give it to him. I think even the allergist has learned a lot more in the past 7 years. My daughter on the other hand looked like she had 3rd degree burns all over from severe eczema. I nursed exclusively and I don't much care for dairy so, I did not expose her very much to straight dairy in my milk. At 4 months, my hubby gave her a bottle of hospital formula and just the touch on her lips sent her into anaphylaxis. She cannot even come into contact with dairy without having a serious reaction. Ie.. she left McDonalds play area on her nebulizer on Wed after rubbing her eye while playing. She was almost instantly wheezing just from reisdues. So.. all that said to say there may be an allergy but, an allergist would need to determine the severity and how to handle it.

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Hi J. -

I think if you're concerned you should take your daughter to an allergist. When my son was a baby, he splashed an iced coffee mixed with milk on his face and got a rash plus hives all over his face. The allergist was able to do a scratch test and let me know that it is a milk allergy. I've found that oftentimes it's better to see the specialist if you think that what the dr is telling you just doesn't feel right or isn't taking you seriously enough.

If you're interested, we see Dr. Tim Brown in Naperville.

Good luck!

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I too also think she has an allergy but just a suggestion for you. As an alternative to soy milk, there's also almond milk which I highly recommend. There's a lot of mixed info/opionins on soy but from what I know about it, it mimics estrogen in our bodies, esp girl's/women's bodies and it can possibly cause related issues both early and later in life. Soy is in so much stuff that it's impossible to avoid all together and I do believe it does have health benefits but honestly, I would try something different when needing to ingest such large amounts of it. Just a thought anyway!

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Does sound like an allergy. My son is intolerant and all it does is make him bloated and gassy and gives him diaper rash from the poop. We use rice milk with him.

I agree that you should go to an allergist or see a NAET doctor. I've done a lot of research on NAET, and it's fascinating. Haven't tried it yet, but thinking about it once we know my husband's job is stable again.

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Hi J.,
I have a 7,6 and 2 1/2 year old... all 3 had dairy 'issues'. The 2 1/2 year old is still on soy milk...he developed the same rashes around the mouth area, and his ears would swell up! We very gradually have introduced other dairy products, which he nows seems to tolerate. But not milk... he loves the soy so we are sticking with that for a while. You need to do what feels best for you in your gut. Our 2nd daughter (now 6) had milk allergies as well, and we switched her from soy to regular milk at about 2, and she now clearly is lactose intolerant. She will eat ice cream, drink milk, etc... but is sure to have an upset stomach (and all that goes with that) later..
Just go with what feels best to you... but don't feel you have to rush something just because the dr says so...

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Sounds like my son... Except he gets his rash on his privates! I have asked the ped the same thing and she has told me the same thing try introducing it later. I have since then a a couple times (he's two now) and he always gets the same thing. I've read up on both intolerance and allergy and I can never tell. But like your daughter he can eat other things with milk in them.

What I have read that if it is an intolerance they will grow out of it by age three. But I would say that if the Soy is dong the job I wouldn't worry about it unless you start seeing the rash and symptoms with other foods.

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No, don't do what the ped says. Clearly she has an allergy (rash, loose stools). Some kids develop a better tolerance for milk as they get older. But this is measured by years, not weeks. As for the foods with small amounts of milk in them: more expsoure=greater reaction. If after eliminating milk and cheese you find that she has NO reaction to foods with small amounts of milk then she's probably fine with that limited exposure. I know several children who can have milk as an ingredient, but not the main event. Some kids don't do well with soy, rice is good option. Almond milk may provide exposure to another allergy, nuts. I agree that finding a pediatrician with a greater understanding of allergies is a must. Most pediatricians received very little training in allergy (I think this has finally changed).

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DO NOT PROCEED WITHOUT AN ALLERGIST. Food allergy reactions can get worse with each exposure and the fact that she is having systemic reactions, rash on the face followed by diarrhea, is a danger sign. No dairy. None. Not until you see an allergist. And read food labels for anything that contains dairy. I wouldn't risk it if I were you, I would go to an allergist. There is a good one in Barrington, Dr. Robert Hart.

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You are the Mom....and it sounds like you've got the right idea if your child gets a rash & has loose stool after consuming dairy. She's allergic to it.

Why would you need to continue to introduce your daughter to a food product that obviously causes internal distress to her body when consumed? Beyond that, she's not a baby cow.

If the idea behind consuming dairy is getting calcium, magnesium & vit D, there are other food sources that are just as viable. Cow's milk in enriched (the vitamins are added to it)--you're a smart Mama, do some research on other, natural, food sources of these vitamins and teach her to love those foods (unless she's allergic to the vegetables--but I doubt that she would be).

Perhaps you'd also like to find a new pediatrician that has a better understanding of food sensitivities & how they can progress into more serious issues if you keep subjecting the body to the offending source. Remember that the Dr works for you, it's OK to make changes in your care giver and that someone has to graduate at the bottom of their class.

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An intolerance can cause the tummy troubles, however a food allergy can as well. My child is allergice to milk, among other things, and he gets the redness in his face, hives, itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, vomiting if he has a reaction.

I'd get a referral (if your ins. even requires it, mine did not) for an allergist, most peds don't know enough about the allergies and you need the guidance of an allergist, if it is an allergy. My child cannot have so much as a bite of cheese, that is how severe his allergy is. I carry epi-pens and Benadryl whereever he goes.

Our peds response to me when I said I thought my child had an allergy was "well don't give him anything with milk". Needless to say, once he turned a year and was eating more table foods this was not easy. We now have a new doctor and an allergist that work together thankfully.

My child can tolerate milk in a baked good but only if it is listed as like the last ingredient. Due to the severeness his reactions we no longer even give him anything like that.

A good book, should it turn out to be an allergy is "Food Allergies for Dummies". It is an increduble resource.

Should she be diagnosed as being allergic, you will need to read labels carefully EVERY time you shop. Our child drinks soymilk. Some soy products contain the proteins found in milk as well. So because it says soy, does not mean safe. Soy cheese has milk proteins for one, and found an unsafe for my child soy yogurt. SOme kids allergic to milk wind up allergic to soy as well. Lactaid still contains the milk proteins but not lactose, so depending on if it is an intolerance or an allergy you'd know if this was an option for you.

It'd be best to see an allergist, they don't normally test the first visit. We did a blood test to determine the milk allergy, they did not want him to have a bad reaction in office. The others foods were tested for in office.

I'd also suggest keeping a food diary, what she eats, how much and the reaction if any to help, this was helpful when we decided what testing to do. If you need anything please feel free to send me a message. Good luck!

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I will cut and paste my response to a request from a few weeks ago:

AND - While many people do not have the lactase (LCT) enzyme needed to properly hydrolyze lactase, fortunately many people indeed, are able, to produce sufficient amounts of lactase predominantly within the villi of their small intestines. So, it is not true that people do not have the ability to digest the lactose in milk.

"You may wish to do some research on the differences between food allergies and food intolerances. Also, check with your pediatrician before diagnosing the issue on your own. Less than eight percent of children under the age of three have a true food allergy. Unfortunately many parents see signs or symptoms of something wrong, automatically jump to the conclusion that there is a food allergy, and then swear off for life all food products that contain the culprit ingredient. That may or may not be necessary.

A food allergy triggers a response in your body that makes your immune system think that the body is under attack by a harmful, foreign substance. As a result, antibodies are produced to combat the substance, causing the immune system to release histamine that can lead to hives, swelling of the mouth/tongue/throat, trouble breathing nausea, anaphylaxis etc. Because the antibodies were produced in response to the food item, the next time the food is ingested (even in a tiny amount) the immune system kicks in and could cause a serious allergic reaction.

A food intolerance can cause many of the same symptoms, including a rash, but the main difference between an allergy and an intolerance is that the allergy, if escalated enough, could be fatal (the swelling of the mouth/tongue/throat can hinder the ability to breathe) and the intolerance doesn't generally involve the immune system and makes a person feel absolutely miserable. People with a food intolerance might be able to eat the food item in small amounts with little to no discomfort and definitely no threat to their life whereas people with a food allergy HAVE to avoid the food item.

Where the food allergy is an immune system response, the food intolerance is a digestive system response. Typically a food intolerance (at her age) is likely due to a lack of a enzyme needed to appropriate break down a food item (this could DEFINITELY be the case for the milk issue; lactose intolerance is the most common food intolerance) or a sensitivity to food additives.

Definitely address these concerns with her pediatrician. In the meantime, your best bet might be to slow down or stop the offending food item until you've had a chance to discuss things with her doctor. Good luck and I hope everything turns out okay!"

If your child had a true food allergy, the reaction would likely be much more severe and potentially life-threatening. Did this happen? If not, it is likely an intolerance.

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My daughter has the same thing. We are taking her where we took my son, who have several food sensitivies/allergies.

There are several doctors in the Area who do an allergy elimination technique called NAET. Its quick, non invasive, tests through the parent -surrogate testing- with Neurosensory muscle testing.

Then they treat it - first seeing what antibodies your body produces in response to the item (like histamine, T compressor cells, white blood cell reaction), and what organs it affects, and then it is treated.

For my sons food sensitivies/allergies it took 5 minutes to treat, 20 minutes resting in the office, and just avoiding the allergen for 48 hours. They retest you on the next visit to make sure you body no longer has a reaction to the allergen.

The technique uses a combination of western physiology, kinesiology, chiropratcitc, allopathy and homeopathy.

But one of the best parts for me with my 14 month old, was that we could stop the foods she has sensitivies/allergies to. Her diarrhea (her symptom) has stopped for the most part, and for my son, his asthma stopped to the point where he doesn't need any meds.

Its a relatively new mediology, so many dr.s don't know about it yet. My kids pediatrician just told us to do the BRAT diet for my daughter, but what we didn't realize (why it wasn't helping) was that she also has a food sensitivity to wheat, which is a main component of the BRAT diet.

And our pediatrician also told us to go ahead and use milk based formula, and give her milk, etc. saying she is not more likely to have an allergy if you give it to her early on. (based on a study they got recently) But since my husband and I BOTH have (now HAD since we've been treated) lactose sensitivies/allergies, I decided to get my daughter tested.

We go to Dr. Tam in Lombard - he is fabulous. (www.naet.com to find practitioners close to you) Can't say enough about him!! (Oh, and our insurance covers it too!)

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Hi J. It wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion but her pediatrician advice probably wouldn't hurt her. Now whether there's a difference between intolerant and an allergy I don't know. But I just found out this past year I had a common allergy and I also thought I was catching frequent cold until I start taking allergy shots and I haven't caught a cold since. That why a cold is treated like an allergy.

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I have been experiencing the same thing. We discovered my son's allergy when he put his hand in cottage cheese from my plate at around age 1 and he broke out in hives. I continued to test this by putting a drop of cows milk, goats milk, soy milk and other dairy products. He reacted to the dairy products, but not the soy. We concluded that he was allergic to lactose and not the protein in the milk. We were told by the MD if he could tolerate the soy, then it was a lactose allergy.
We even tried Lactaid, which says lactose free, but found that it really isn't it has about 5% lactose. So if your just intolerant to lactose and get the GI effects, this product is probably fine. However, if allergic, it can still cause the rash.
I am a pharmacist, so from my experience, allergic presents in the form of rash with hives or more severely, swelling of the mouth and throat. Anything like diarrhea, constipation, nausea is not definted as being allergic - it's either a side effect or in the case of milk an intolerance.
This is not to say that you can not grow out of this milk allergy. I am hopeful that my little guy, by around age 3-5, will be able to have dairy products. Their little bodies are drastically changing over the next few years, so it is very likely they may out grow. I have been told this by mom's who have experienced the same thing and now have kids that are fine.
My challenge is finding a soy milk he will drink. Thank goodness your little girl drinks it. He does not to seem to have a problem either with milk when its baked into food like cake or cookies, but we really don't push it too much.
Good luck.

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Try goats milk and goats cheese. If you plan to reintroduce dairy. But I think she should be tested for the allergy. If your doctor will not do it go see an allergies to get he tested.


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I recommend taking her to see an allergist. A great allergist helped us a lot!

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For about 6 months my son went through a period of time where his cheeks were so rashed up, dry and cracking. People thought he had fallen and scraped his face on the sidewalk. At times it would bleed slightly. He was drinking milk like crazy. It finally dawned on me that the milk may be the problem. I switched to rice milk and his face cleared up instantly. He still drinks rice milk, but he can eat other dairy products without any side effects.

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