Food Allergies in Babies—Cow’s Milk Allergy & Lactose Intolerance

It’s estimated that 1 in 13 children in the United States has food allergies.1,2 A very common one is cow’s milk allergy (CMA). Some children will outgrow a food allergy over time. But this isn’t as simple as it sounds for parents wanting to provide the best and most comforting nourishment for their babies.

It’s far from an impossible situation, though. First, if you suspect that your baby has a food allergy, speak to his healthcare professional. The following information on CMA in babies may also help ease your mind and guide you forward.

What is cow’s milk allergy?
CMA usually develops during a baby’s first year. It simply means that an infant’s immune system reacts to one or more cow’s milk proteins in infant formula, breast milk, or any food with milk-containing ingredients.

Symptoms of CMA can appear minutes to hours after a feeding. Talk to your baby’s doctor if she experiences symptoms such as a rash, hives, diarrhea, constipation, and/or blood in the stool. While severe symptoms are rare, call 911 if your baby experiences trouble breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, or loss of consciousness.

Only a healthcare professional can accurately diagnose an allergy. If you suspect that your little one has a food allergy, talk to your baby’s pediatrician. They can do a full exam, take a history of all symptoms, and make recommendations specific to your infant.

Is it CMA or lactose intolerance?
CMA and lactose intolerance in babies are not the same, but they may have similar symptoms like vomiting, excessive gassiness, or diarrhea.

CMA and lactose intolerance differ fundamentally:

Cow’s milk allergy is an immune reaction to the protein in milk
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products, due to a deficiency of an enzyme.