Allergy to Cow's Milk in Infant

Updated on July 17, 2010
N.K. asks from Albuquerque, NM
12 answers

My 4.5 month old son had blood in his stool and the doctor thinks that it is probably due to an allergy to cow's milk. He is exclusively breast feeding, so I have eliminated all dairy from my diet. His bowels seemed to be better, but then this morning I saw just a trace of blood in his stool. He is also not nursing - will refuse to nurse, but will take expressed milk from a bottle. I have even tried pumping before feeding him to stimulate the let down reflex. It seems my milk supply has decreased and so I tried to give him nutramigen forumla, but he is refusing it.

So I was wondering about others' experiences with cow's milk allergies, did they grow out of it, when did it develop, did it lead to other food allergies, did people continue nursing, what formulas worked and any other advice/support anyone could offer.


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answers from Dallas on

My sister had the same problem. Her Dr. told her it could take many weeks for the bowels to heal. If you've just cut out milk recently, it could take a while for him to be totally better. She also found she was accidentally consuming milk products in unexpected sources. Be careful with packaged products that list the ingredient casein or whey protein.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

First to add to what someone said about La Leche - the benefit of going to a La Leche meeting is more than just talking to the leaders - it's hearing from all the other mothers too who have probably dealt with similar issues. At our group there's someone who has dealt with allergies. She nurses her son. The refusal to nurse is probably a separate issue from the allergies. Other moms at a La Leche League would have ideas with that too. The main thing I've heard is persistence. First try nursing when your son is sleepy or not too hungry. I've heard stories of it taking weeks to get back to nursing again, but it does work. Until then you'll have to keep doing things to keep your supply up like pumping more often, fenugreek, and trying to do less and relax.



answers from Phoenix on

My daughter was severly allergic to all dairy products from until she turned 1yr old and then luckily she outgrew her allergy completely. They thought she had colic and acid reflux, but then at 2mo old she started have bloody stools--really frightening since sometimes there was more blood than stool. I was exclusively breastfeeding her and it took us over a month to decide that it was just dairy she was allergic to (I had basically cut out all the common allergic foods for a month!). We waited until 6mo to start solids and then did not introduce any type of dairy until 1yr.
When my son started to show early symptoms at a few wks old I went off dairy again to avoid the issues we had with her and again was able to exclusively breastfeed. He started eating/drinking dairy at 1yr with no problems.

Every baby is different for some you can just cut out the obvious dairy sources and it will be enough. Or for some you are able to have a small amount of dairy. It's often easier to cut it all out and then see if you can add any back in later. Realize that it will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for the dairy to get out of your system and for him to heal. For my daughter I had to cut out everything with any trace of dairy in it---to do this you have to read all labels really, really carefully since dairy products are hidden in many processed foods. (things you'd never guess had any dairy in them, like many luncheon meat etc) There are many websites that you can find that will tell you the chemical names to look for on all dairy allergy & milk allergy. Here is a website I found helpful: If you find that you have to go to this extreme like I did, it really limits your choices for food, but I found that it was worth it. But believe me, I love dairy and didn't initially think I could do it. But it was worth it to have my daughter feel better and not have to go on special formula--which she hated (she had to be on it for 2 weeks because she was showing no improvement with me just cutting out dairy for two weeks, it took quite awhile to get all the dairy out of my system and to realize that I had to look for hidden sources too).
I hope this helps you...I hope for you that your son is one of the lucky ones that will outgrow his allergy.



answers from Albuquerque on

I don't have much comment on whether or not he is allergic to milk and what all that entails, but I want to encourage you to seek help from a lactation specialist or even just LLL. By far breastmilk is the BEST food to feed your very young baby and you need to figure that out immediately. And getting from you rather than expressed in a bottle is ideal as far as your supply is concerned. What you pay the lactation specialist is WELL worth in it what you will save in stress, formula and your baby's optimum health. I can recommend someone if you need a professional and you can find a LLL leader online. Do not hesitate to do this. They are probably also be well versed in the allergy issues. But do it before this becomes a bigger problem.



answers from Phoenix on

My baby had blood in the stool when i ate cabbage.



answers from Los Angeles on

My mother was alergic to cows milk (1922). My grand mother gave her goats milk. My grand daughter was allergic to cows milk, even if my DIL ate something with cows milk in it. So my DIL couldn't have milk or cheese or yogurt, or mac and cheese or a hundred other things.

My DIL gave her almond milk and soy milk and she has done just fine. She is four now and still cannot have cow dairy products, but does just fine on soy or almond milk.

Good luck to you and yours.


answers from New York on

My baby has allergic to the protein on milk as well, I was in diet when I was breastfeeding (I couldn't believe how many things have milk!)
We mover to Nutramigen when I lost my milk.
When she was 16 months, we stop Nutramigen and start trying different kind of milks (rise milk, almond milk, etc) but she didn't like them.
Without thinking one day I gave her a chocolate (which of course had milk) and she was fine. So we took her again to her allergist and we found out she outgrow her allergy to milk.
We then try to give her normal milk and she trow up. Then we start giving her 2% milk and she was perfect.
We give her some cheese here and there and she is fine.
Maybe your baby need more time to get use to Nutramigen, and yes, is possible she will out grow her allergy to milk.



answers from Phoenix on

You could try the liquid instead of the powder. Alimentum (sp?) is also a good one. I had the same issue. The formula and my very strict diet seemed to help.

My son who is 3 now, still drinks lactose free milk, but I give him yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese. Sometimes he likes to eat it, sometimes not, so I assume it's due to his allergy. Hopefully it won't be drastic for you and you can work your way into it.



answers from Albuquerque on

Hi N. - this is C.! Nicolas (now 3) had exactly the same thing at about 3 months. The pediatrician and pediatric gastrointerologist (spelling?) said it was a sensitivity to cow's milk protein. I cut out dairy and he really improved, but still occasionally had blood in his stool and would projectile spit up after I ate corn or certain legumes (soy, garbanzos). I eliminated those two and he had no more problems. He doesn't get the tummy problems anymore with dairy or corn (he can eat legumes without problem now), but he just becomes the crazed energizer bunny in the middle of the night and will not sleep. Needless to say, we still avoid corn and dairy. I haven't really tried either in about a year, so I don't know if he has outgrown it. The problem is now he will not eat dairy even if I tell him it won't hurt him. He won't even eat butter on bread.

It may be that the nursing problems are related to some other food sensitivity. I was lucky to be able to correlate projectile spitting up and crying at the breast with corn products. The docs didn't believe me on the corn, but as soon as I cut it out, he was fine.

I did use that Nutramigen a little bit, but he hated it. I'd try eliminating some other potential problem foods for awhile and see how he does.

When he gets older, we do enriched rice milk and OJ with calcium. Plus, I am fortunate that Nicolas loves Brisling sardines which have calcium and vitamin A and D.

One thing to watch out for is tooth decay. I suspect that because Nicolas may not have gotten enough calcium and vitamins A and D, his enamel is weak and he got cavities. I'm sure it didn't help that I night nursed him for a really long time, but there are plenty of babies who do night nurse as long who didn't get them. Just something to watch out for once he gets some teeth. I wouldn't night wean just for that, but you might take a second to wipe his teeth with a soft cloth afterward.

I don't know if you are as much as a cheese addict as I was, but if you are suffering the loss of cheese, it will get better. I don't miss it much anymore. It just means I eat a lot of carne adovado burritos instead of enchiladas anymore. Also, coconut milk ice cream is a reasonable substitute. Whole Soy & Co. makes edible soy yogurt. Any other brand I find inedible.

Sorry for the long, rambling post, but we have been there, and actually still are there.




answers from Tucson on

My 1st and 3rd babies were actually allergic to my breast milk. My 2nd I did not try because I was traumatized by the experience with my 1st but chances are he would have been because it turned out he has a milk protein and lactose allergy, which my other 2 also had. Changing my diet did not work for me with the breastfed babies. The only thing that worked was a lactose free formula and soy formulas. My oldest completely grew out of all food allergies (he is 11) my 2nd who is almost 5 has grown out of most of it, he still drinks lactose free milk and has some issues with yogurt and some cheeses. My youngest, almost 2, drinks lactose free milk and can have minimal cheese. They all had blood in their stools, diareah and upset tummies/vomitting as reactions to their allergies. Some kids can have additional allergies but what I have found through my research is the earlier you catch one allergy the less likely their systems will become weakend and develope sensitivites to other foods.



answers from Denver on

Same thing happened w/ my son, but earlier. At about 8-10 weeks he had mucus and blood in his stool. Dr said it was a milk PROTIEN allergy. She said I can stop eating all milk products (anything baked, w/ butter, crackers, bread... and the list goes on). It would then take at least 2 weeks to get the protiens out of my system and two more for him to heal. He would also get extremely fussy/colicy from 4pm - 11 every night. For both our sakes, I switched to formula. We tried Similac's Alimentum - didn't like it. So we tried Nutramagin. It tooka while of mixing w/ BM (expressed) and 75/25, then 50/50 two days later then 25/70 two days later, then just formula. Once we was on the formula 100% he was a new kid w/i two days!!! At one year I tried reg milk and he began to have fussiness, discomfort, gas and mucusy stools. We used rice milk (unflavored) for 6 mos, but did feed him dairy foods in moderation, yogurt, cheese and he tolerated it. By about 20 mos, we tried milk again (whole) and he did okay, just had to make sure it wasn't too much. He's now 27 mos and just fine. My son also had exema - not horribly bad, but red and rough behind the knees and on his cheeks... and it cleared up as well! Good luck - most do outgrow it by 2 or 4.



answers from Phoenix on

Here is a list you can print and stick in your purse:

I would also be careful with anything you get from a restaurant-even french fries can have a coating that contains a dairy derivative.

I have an extreme dairy allergy, so have come to find that you have to read EVERY label and not assume it does not have dairy. It also makes going out to eat nearly impossible.

Good luck, and I hope for both your sakes that this is something that is outgrown!

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