Adoptive Families Blog

Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance?

Posted by Guest Contributor on November 16, 2012

Is your little one experiencing negative reactions to milk and dairy consumption? Evidence suggests that a milk allergy sets in within the first year of life. It is also resolved quickly. By five years of age, eighty percent of children will outgrow their milk allergy. There are so many conflicting ideas and facts out there! What is a mother to do?

When a person is allergic to dairy, he/she will have an autoimmune response to the milk protein. The body reacts to the milk as a dangerous invader. Multiple systems in the body can be attacked. The skin, lungs, digestive tract and blood circulation can all be affected. Even a small amount can cause great damage to the body. A physical response will occur just minutes after ingesting the offending food. It is crucial that children and/or adults with a food allergy avoid milk products all together.

Lactose intolerance is much less severe. This occurs when the body does not have enough lactate in the body to break down the sugar in milk. This milk sugar is called Lactose. When a person with Lactose intolerance drinks milk, they will develop bloating and cramping. The reaction from the body is not immediate. It can take several hours to feel the symptoms. Some experience diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms are not life threatening. Your doctor may prescribe taking a lactate enzyme pill or switch regular milk with Lactaid milk.

If your child has an allergy, it is important that they remain under the supervision of a doctor or board-certified allergist. He/she will help you come up with a feasible plan to keep your child safe. You may need to carry an epinephrine shot in case of difficulty breathing. Here is a breakdown of some symptoms for both a milk allergy and intolerance:

Milk allergy symptoms

  • Fainting
  • Low-blood pressure
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Itching rash
  • Throwing up
  • Confusion
  • Overall body weakness

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

  • Swollen tummy
  • Gas
  • Throwing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping

We are fortunate that there are so many delicious dairy alternatives available. In almost every grocery store, you will find rice, coconut, soy and almond milks. You will also find a variety of substitute yogurt, cheese and desserts. Don’t be fooled into thinking that goat or sheep’s milk is OK. Over 90 percent of those allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to these milks. With the help of medical professionals, come up with a workable plan that helps your child to thrive!

Topics: Parenting, Adopting a Baby