5 Things Parents Need To Know About Milk Protein Allergies

Children can be allergic to many different foods, including milk. Here are five things parents need to know about milk protein allergies.

What are the signs of milk protein allergies?

Milk protein allergies generally develop quite early, usually in infancy or early childhood. After giving your child a food that contains milk proteins, you will notice the development of allergy symptoms within a few minutes or hours. Immediate symptoms may include things like hives or vomiting, and later, symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or coughing may develop. If you notice these symptoms after your child eats a food that contains milk proteins, you need to take your child to an allergist immediately.

Where is milk protein found?

Obviously, milk protein is found in dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, but milk protein is hiding in lots of less obvious places, too. Parents need to be vigilant and always read nutrition labels and need to teach their children to do the same as they get older. On nutrition labels, words like buttermilk, cream, butter extract, whey, or caseinate suggest that milk proteins are present. Words like flavoring, high protein flour, or lactic acid may also be a clue that a food contains milk.

 Here are some surprising foods that may contain milk protein:

  • White pasta sauces;
  • Baked goods like cookies;
  • Chocolate;
  • Donuts;
  • Processed meats.

How are these allergies diagnosed?

To diagnose this allergy, your child's allergist will ask you questions about the foods and drinks they consumed before their reaction. This helps the allergist narrow down possible causes. If the allergist thinks milk may be responsible, testing will be done to confirm it.

Diagnostic testing for milk protein allergies is the same as for other types of allergies and includes familiar tests like skin prick tests. Your child may also have to do an oral food challenge, which involves consuming milk in the presence of the allergist to see if it causes a reaction. This test is very accurate and is safe if it's done by an allergist; don't try to do an oral food challenge at home.

How are milk protein allergies managed?

Milk protein allergies are managed by being vigilant about avoiding products that may contain it. You will need to teach your child to read food labels so that they can avoid milk products. They may also be given a prescription for antihistamines or an epinephrine autoinjector so that symptoms of accidental milk protein exposure can be treated.

How common are milk protein allergies?

Milk protein allergies are very common, according to surveys of pediatric allergies. In America, 3.4% of children are allergic to the proteins in cow's milk, according to Medscape. 

If you think your child has a milk protein allergy, take them to an allergist right away.

For professional help, contact an allergy clinic such as Asthma and Allergy Clinic.