Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8754

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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Cows’ milk is one of the most common causes of food allergies in children. It is usually identified as soon as cows’ milk is introduced into the diet, which could be in formula or when your baby is being weaned. In rare cases, proteins from cows’ milk can even reach your baby through your breast milk. The good news about milk allergies in children is that they will often disappear with age. Most children will lose their milk allergy by the age of five.


Types of Milk Allergy

Milk allergies come in two different forms, immediate and delayed. Some allergies cause an immediate reaction. These can be easier to identify because the symptoms will appear almost as soon as your child drinks the milk. Other allergies can be delayed, which means that the symptoms won’t appear for several hours or even days. You might not be able to identify the cause of the allergy by yourself if it is delayed, but doctor should be able to help.

The Symptoms of Cows’ Milk Allergies

Another reason why it can be difficult to identify a milk allergy is that the reactions can be different for each child. Common symptoms of a milk allergy include:

  • A red, itchy rash or eczema that doesn’t improve
  • Swelling around the lips and eyes
  • Runny nose and hay fever- like symptoms
  • Stomach ache, diarrhoea and other digestive problems

In some cases, food allergies in children can cause more severe reactions. Cows’ milk allergies can sometimes result in anaphylaxis, which causes swelling and breathing problems that require emergency medical care.

If you suspect milk or other food allergies in children, it is important to consult a doctor. The doctor will be able to confirm whether your child really has an allergy, to identify the cause, and to advise you on how to manage it while providing your child with a healthy diet.

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