NEED ADVICE: My 5 Month Old May Have a Milk Protein Allergy

Updated on May 17, 2013
M.C. asks from Palatine, IL
5 answers

I took my 5 month old to the pediatrician today because I noticed thin bloody streaks in her stools today. She is exclusively breastfed and has had no issues until today. She has no other symptoms, so the doctor believes she may have a milk protein allergy. In order to continue nursing, I would have to eliminate all dairy from my diet and see if that helps. I definitely want to continue nursing as long as I can, so I am going to start eating a dairy-free diet. Has anyone else gone through this, and if so, is it okay to eat soy products? Also, my doctor said that 90% of babies outgrow this by a year of age and can go straight to milk..and I was wondering if your kids really did outgrow it. I was just surprised to find my DD having this all of a sudden when I've always been eating dairy since she was born. I have no family history of this and my son who is 2y.o never had any problems. Does this tend to run in families amongst siblings? Sorry for the many questions..but thank you in advance for any advice/experiences you have had with this.

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answers from Chicago on

Good luck! My daughter is allergic to milk, peanuts, fish and eggs. We did not realize she had a milk allergy (she had always had bad eczema) until she was diagnosed with a life-threatening peanut allergy after accidental ingestion at daycare at 12 mos old. So, here is my advice. Try a dairy elimination diet -- use soy milk (or rice milk), soy yogurt (watch - some contain milk cultures so try Soy Live -- Jewel and Whole Foods sell it), Vegan cheese (not soy cheese usually as most of it contains milk proteins like casein or whey), the kosher parve Smart Balance, and avoid anything baked that doesn't have a label and all labeled products that contain milk, whey, casein, caseinate, or anything starting with lacto- or lacti- ... it is not easy.

I breastfed my daughter for 4 mos (she never latched so I pumped for 4 mos..she is now 25 mos)-- she had the rash on her face and eczema the whole time; started milk-based formula and it got worse behind her knees, at her elbow folds, ankles, wrists; switched to whole milk at 1 yo and progressively got worse and worse...when she was diagnosed with the peanut allergy we tested for others at 17 mos (delay was because I had another baby in that time - he is now 9 mos). My daughter has now been milk-free for 8 mos. Sometimes she is worse than others...depends on how careful we have been.

You must do the dairy elimination diet for 2-3 weeks MINIMUM to see if your kiddo will get better. Dairy proteins take a while to eliminate from your system (2 weeks) then there is a delay of like a week or so beyond that to eliminate from the kiddo since you have breastfeeding. I did the dairy elimination diet with my son because I thought he had a milk allergy when he developed a rash...thankfully he did not. It is not easy. If you need any more advice -- please send me a message!

And - FYI - some kids are milk and soy allergic (I have a friend whose daughter is both) so it could possibly not solve your problem. Also, allergies do tend to run in families but not always. My husband and I are highly allergic people -- allergy shots for years. Docs said our kids have 75% of developing allergies...but they can manifest themselves in different ways (viola-daughter's food allergies -- neither of us are food allergic!).



answers from Chicago on

I don't think my experience was as serious, but I eliminated dairy from my diet nursing both my kids because they had extreme gas. With my son (the oldest) of course I had no idea that this would be an issue. When we were still at the hospital after he was born he was SO GASSY right away and just cried constantly. It was aweful. After a week or so when meeting with a lactation consultant we figured it out. I switched to soy milk & soy yogurt and then just tried to avoid ice cream or anything like that. When we started introducing formula with him around 6-8 months, he was completely fine with the dairy-based formula, although we did have a lot of trouble figuring out which one would work for him. So that could end up being an issue later on for you.
With my 13 month old DD, I actually cut out dairy from my diet while I was still pregnant. We didn't have any of the gas issues with her that we had with our DS, except when I would eat certain foods (greens...) BUT when I introduced formula with her, we ended up having to go with soy formula for a while. But I do agree with your doc. She has also outgrown this and can now drink regular organic milk with no problems.
Our doctor had great recommendations... we would just keep trying to reintroduce the dairy every month or so and see how it went. Eventually as the babies got a bit older and ate more solid foods, their bodies were fine digesting the dairy.
Now all this said, my kids were never labeled as having milk protein allergies...
Oh also according to our doc this can be somewhat genetic, but not necessarily the same manifestation. My husband is lactose-intolerant (as is 80% of the population in this country although most ignore the symptoms) and also has pretty serious skin issues. My DS & DD both have eczema, although it doesn't seem to be triggered by dairy, as the other post said... And neither my husband or I have any food allergies at all, although we both suffer from seasonal allergies... but it's all kind of related, from what I understand.



answers from Chicago on

Rice is much easier to digest than soy. The soy is a bean and may still cause discomfort to the baby. I eat a soy free, dairy free and gluten free diet, so it is not hard once you adjust. There is coconut milk yogurt and coconut milk ice cream that is out of this world!

You also may want to add some probiotics to your diet so your daughter gets a boost from your milk and if you pump, you can add some infant probiotics to her milk. Also, ask your peditrician about adding vitamin d3 to help boost her immunity. According the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusively b-fed babies need 400iu of vitamin d3 per day. You can safely put her in the sun for 5-min per day w/o no sunscreen to get the vitamin d3 naturally.

You can read my family health column for more info on probiotics:

May I also add to read the book, Is This My Child? By Dr. Dorris Rapp she is a pediatric allergist that can give you clues to food and environmental allergies, both physical, mental and emotional clues. It is a must I think on all parents bookshelf!

Good Luck, you'll be fine!

Maternal and Child Health Educator



answers from Chicago on

I would first of all go see a pediatric allergist instead of guessing what your son is allergic to. I have 4 boys 8-3months. None of my children have allergies but one my almost 3 year old. I nursed All of them minimum of 9 months. I nursed exclusively I noticed around 2 months his cheeks would get red almost flushed easily then around 3 months a little rash on cheeks he was a fall baby so I just thought it was from the cold weather. Needless to say it turned into a full blown hives from head to toe around 5 months. I finally did see a allergist and they did a skin prick test (didn't bother the baby) in 20 minutes I knew what he was allergic to.... He was allergic to milk, peanut and then later egg. Needless to say he is still allergic to milk at almost 3 years old but he has had a few times of accidental exposure and NO hives. I just started introducing yogurt this summer as the allergist explained to me you are never no longer allergic to something you were prior you just develop a higher tollerance to it. I have done tons of research on allergies and the immune system I would be happy to share with you. Good luck and don't panic just yet maybe it was a one time thing....If it turns out to be milk...great news it is an easy weight loss system I looked great quickly. ha ha. Also trader joe's is GREAT for help with alternative foods for people with allergies.. Oh my son in intollerant to soy..I found that out when I went to wean him bit it diddn't bother him while I ws nursing him.



answers from Elkhart on

I'm a nurse practitioner. Here's my advice: Whatever you do, ensure you are getting enough fats if you are not intaking dairy. Babies require saturated fats & cholesterol for brain & nervous system development (brain matter & nerve cells are mostly fat). Most kids DO outgrow milk allergies.
I'm a nurse practitioner and always recommend that parents avoid soy with their kids. Soy can interfere with thyroid function, is extremely difficult to digest, and it has estrogen effects on the body. Here are some good articles & research for you.
If a child truly DOES have a cow's milk allergy, I recommend trying goat's milk or coconut milk as a substitute. Rice milk, soy milk & almond milk don't have adequate nutrition (the calcium is added later & not absorbed well, and not enough fats for brain development- which is why pediatricians always have children on WHOLE milk). Yogurt is easier to digest than raw milk due to the cultures that help break down the proteins & lactose. Good luck!

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