Fact Sheets : Milk Allergy - What Parents Need To Know

Cow's milk allergy is the most common food allergy in young children. Fortunately, most babies outgrow milk allergies by their second or third year. In the meantime, parents of babies with milk allergies can be reassured that although there is no treatment that can cure milk allergy, symptoms can be controlled through a dairy-free diet.

  • Symptoms of cow's milk protein allergy include:
  • eczema or skin rash
  • abdominal pain or cramps
  • diarrhea
  • anaphylaxis*
    • *This reaction usually occurs within minutes after eating or drinking food which they're allergic to. The most serious symptom of an anaphylactic reaction is the swelling of the face, mouth and tongue leading to difficulty breathing. Hives, itchy rash and flushing and severe vomiting are other signs that may be present should an anaphylactic reaction occur. If your child ever has these symptoms, get medical help immediately because untreated anaphylaxis can quickly become fatal. Fortunately, anaphylaxis is rare.

Although most babies eventually outgrow milk allergy, as long as they are allergic, all milk protein containing foods must be avoided and if necessary you should always have prescribed medications on hand including an antihistamine and adrenaline (like an Epipen) if your child has had anaphylactic reaction). Children on formula should either drink soy based or hyrdrolysate formulas. Breast fed milk allergic babies can continue to breast feed as long as mother follows a dairy free diet.

Here's a helpful list of some foods and food ingredients to avoid:

  • Any type of cow's milk or food containing cow's milk (including skim, dried, solid, evaporated, and condensed)
  • Lactaid®, which is milk that has been specially-processed for lactose intolerant people. But Lactaid® still contains cow's milk protein, and so should not be given to children with milk allergy.
  • Cheese, cheese curds, yogurt, and ice cream
  • Butter and buttermilk. Also, many margarines have milk in them, so be sure to carefully check the ingredients.
  • Soy products containing cow's milk. Many of the popular soy-based products now on the market, such as frozen soy desserts, actually contain small amounts of cow's milk in them. Be sure to read labels carefully for product ingredients.
  • Pre-mixed cereals containing powdered cow's milk
  • Any products containing casein, caseinate, sodium and/or calcium caseinate, lactalbumin or whey. These terms all indicate milk protein.

This list only shows you some of the foods to avoid, so be sure to consult your doctor for more information about which other foods should be removed from your child's diet.