What Are the Dangers of a Milk Allergy?

Updated on August 14, 2009
J.J. asks from Andover, MN
7 answers

When my son was in for his 4 month check up he had a staph infection on his cheek, the dr put him on a prescription cream. After the 10 days, it wasn't gone, so I made an appt with a pediatrician since our regular PCP was booked. She put him on Similac Alimentum to find out if he has a milk allergy. She said that it is common with a milk allergy to have cradle cap, exzema patches on the cheeks and wheezing (which he sometimes has on and off) She put him on another prescription for his cheek and the patch went away. She wanted him on the special formula for 2 weeks, with instructions to stay on it if it makes a difference and go back to the regular formula if it doesn't seem to matter. I switched him back to the regular formula after the 2 weeks. I'm just a little worried as to what the dangers are of being on the regular formula if he really does have a milk allergy. If he gets any of the symptoms back, I will switch him back but in the mean time is it harmful to be on regular formula if he does indeed have a milk allergy?

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answers from Minneapolis on

It's very important when talking about allergies, milk in particular, to distinguish between an allergy and a sensitivity. Many people, even adults, have a sensitivity to dairy; their bodies have trouble digesting it. In that case, your son would probably have an upset stomach, may be gassy or have trouble pooping or have diarrhea.

An allergy is systemic; it affects more than one system in the body. That's why you get swelling, rashes, etc. And some allergies can, I understand, become more severe with repeated exposure. As your body reacts again and again to the perceived threat, it will respond more strongly. My husband had penicillin for the first time as a child and developed a rash; he was diagnosed as having an allergy. Some years later, he was at camp and needed antibiotics. They didn't believe him that he was allergic, and he had a life-threatening reaction. If he were to take it again, the results could be fatal.

If he's on the formula now and not having any symptoms, I wouldn't worry; it sounds like he's not having any symptoms of an allergy. But if you want to be sure, an allergist is the place to go. They can tell you for sure whether or not your son has an allergy.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Did you notice any change while you were on the special formula? A decrease in congestion or wheeziness? If you did, even slightly, I would move him back to the special formula. He may have more of a milk sensitivity, rather than a full blown allergy, at this point. Usually, when you catch it this early, if it isn't too severe, waiting to introduce dairy until he is 18 months or so can make a huge difference in his lifetime ability to tolerate milk products. If he does currently have a sensitivity, and you continue to give him a formula with milk proteins, his body never gets a break and the sensitivity will continue/possible worsen as he gets older. Hope this is helpful. Oh, also, when he turns one, goat's milk is a good option if you are going to not do cow's milk. The powdered kind is sold at most natural foods stores - it's easy to mix and much more cost effective.

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answers from Milwaukee on

My daughter had a milk allergy and we went through the same thing as you are now (plus some). It is common that infants have an allergy or sensitivity to milk, some just react more then others. The only "harm" that could happen is discomfort when back on the old formula, my daughter started to throw up and got the rash back within a few days going back on formula with milk so we quickly switched to milk free formula (used Parents Choice Lactose Free, cheaper then the name brand and worked for my daughter).

When I was an infant I had a lactose sensitivity but less was know about that almost 30 years ago and there was no special formula. I still have a sensitivity to milk but some days are better then others so I can at least enjoy cheese or milk a few times a week. With my daughter the doctors said that sometimes the stomach needs that first year to become fully developed to be able to handle lactose. They also said that since I (or other family members) have issues with milk/dairy it is possible that my daughter will too. Thankfully since we choose to go the lactose free formula route it seems that my daughter has no issue with milk/dairy.

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answers from Minneapolis on

If your child is really allergic, exsposure to the allergen makes the reactions worse each time. So it can go from simple rashes to anaphylatic reactions over time. If a child has an allergy, it is found out and there is no exsposure, the child can out grow it. With each exsposure you place the child's immune system in flight or fight and after a while, the immune systems stops fighting and starts flighting. I would stay with the speciality formula, have your peds do a blood draw for allergies and see how it comes back and what IgA level the baby comes back with. I know the speciality formulas are $$, but ask your Peds about getting a "helping hands" form and the company will help you with it since it is a medical need and not just a preference. They off set the additional cost of the formula. I think I would rather be inconvienced a short time now than for a life time. I have a child with SEVERE food allergies and due to some very STRICT diet alterations we made as an infant and toddler; she was able to outgrow SOME. Others are so severe they are around for a life-time. Good luck.



answers from Sheboygan on

My niece has milk, egg, and peanut allergy. The peanut is obviously the most serious. My SIL said "what's the big deal if she has milk and egg and it makes her face get red patches of eczema?" (Every time she nursed or ate her face would "break out"--ped said "eczema"--didn't get tested until she ate her sister's PBJ sandwich on accident at about 14 months, reacted and then had further testing) ANYWAY, the "Big Deal" is that an by feeding an allergy, you are deliberately putting the body in a constant state of inflamation and "fighting" it off--not fair.



answers from Des Moines on

The symptoms you mentioned do sound like a possible milk allergy. The easiest way to test for it is to withdraw milk from the diet and then introduce it. If the symptoms come back then you know there is an allergy. Other testing methods would include a skin allergy test and the RAST blood test which tests for any 5 allergies at one time and rates the level of allergy on a scale. Our daughter had the RAST test and if I had it to do over, I probably would not test her so young. She ended up being sensitive to dairy until she was 2 and then outgrew it. She was not truly allergic. My nephew is allergic. There are many books and websites to find out more about the allergy. Severity of reactions varies. It can be as mild as rash/skin problems to trouble breathing etc. Repeated exposure is said to cause frequent ear infections and cold like symptoms. We have found this to be true of my nephew. We hope he outgrows it as he ages.
Good luck!



answers from Sioux Falls on

The best way to find out is to go to an allergist, have a blood draw done for milk & soy and see what comes back, just FYI you will need longer than 2 weeks on the allimentium.. it takes 2 -4 weeks for the gut to correct any damage done by a previous formula sometimes longer, we have lots of milk allergies some mild some severe. We switched my son back to soy 6 weeks ago and am now have projectile vomitting. So he may end up back on the Neo Cate yet.
Best of luck to you.

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