Table of contents
Over the past few years, we started to hear about allergies that we never knew existed. Milk allergies are a little confusing especially to new moms, who just started noticing that milk and its derivatives have negative side effects on their children. You might be advised by your child’s pediatrician to cut off all dairy products, but is it because of milk allergy or lactose intolerance?
According to WebMD, milk allergy is linked to the immune system, whilst lactose intolerance is linked to the digestive system.
Milk allergy ranges from mild sensitivity to severe intolerance towards the proteins found in cow milk as well as all dairy products. The body resists these proteins and reacts in the form of an allergic reaction, which could be mild or severe.
Milk allergy is more common during infancy. Like any allergy, it could be genetically inherited. In many cases, milk allergy could go away on its own, as the child grows up.
Symptoms of dairy allergy include:
- Skin rash
- Stomach ache
- Troubles breathing
According to Mayo Clinic, there’s no other way to prevent milk allergy other than cutting off dairy products. In case the child accidentally consumes any dairy product, antihistaminic medications should be able to reduce and soothe the allergic reaction.
However, a breastfeeding mother of a child who’s allergic to milk should refrain from consuming any dairy products during the period of breastfeeding.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, which is the sugar contained in dairy milk and its derivatives. The body naturally produces the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose. However, in the case of lactose intolerance, the body doesn’t properly produce the needed enzymes to digest lactose.
It’s said that all humans have a degree of lactose intolerance, which could be so mild that it goes unnoticed. It’s more common between adults and older children than infants. It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is not as dangerous as milk allergy, as it mainly causes abdominal discomfort, unlike milk allergy which causes a noticeable allergic reaction.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Stomach ache
Like milk allergy, lactose intolerance doesn’t have a prescribed cure, except for limiting or entirely cutting off dairy products, especially those high in lactose such as milk, heavy cream, processed creamy cheese, and condensed milk. According to Everyday Health, lactose-intolerant people might be able to consume certain dairy products in little amounts such as yogurt or hard cheese, as it’s lower in lactose.
Whether your child is allergic to milk or lactose intolerant, you need to follow-up with their pediatrician and do the recommended tests.
Further reading: Is Soy Milk Safe for Children?