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Milk allergy

Milk protein allergy occurs when the immune system reacts hypersensitivity to proteins found in milk. It is usually more prevalent among children under one year of age and usually subsides before the children reach school age. People with this allergy must follow a diet without dairy products.

Causes Milk protein allergy

Milk protein allergy is an immune reaction to proteins found in milk. It is more common in infants and young children, but some people can also develop the allergy later in life. The main proteins in milk that usually cause allergic reactions are casein and whey protein. The causes of milk protein allergy can be complex and include genetic and environmental factors. Here are some possible causes:

  • Genetics: Heredity plays a role in whether someone may develop a milk protein allergy. If there is a family history of allergies including milk allergy, the risk may be higher.

  • Immune system reaction: Milk protein allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to milk proteins as foreign substances. This leads to the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) and other inflammatory substances that cause allergic symptoms.

  • Exposure to milk proteins: Exposure to milk proteins either through food intake or through contact with the skin (to for example through skin care products containing milk proteins) can trigger an allergic reaction.

  • Breastfeeding and early introduction of milk: Studies have shown that breastfeeding and early introduction of milk products to infants can affect the risk of milk protein allergy. It is important to discuss the introduction of milk products with a pediatrician.

  • Allergenic substances in milk: Milk contains a number of allergenic substances including casein and whey protein to which the body can react allergically.

It is important to note that milk protein allergy is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance means a lack of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down milk sugar (lactose) and causes stomach upset, while milk protein allergy is an allergic reaction to the proteins found in milk.

Symptoms Milk protein allergy

Milk protein allergy can cause different symptoms that can vary in severity. Symptoms usually appear within a few minutes to a few hours after the person has ingested milk protein. Symptoms may include:

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • stomachache

  • constipation

  • loss of appetite

  • insufficient weight gain in children

  • blood in the stool

  • eczema

  • hives

It is important to remember that milk protein allergy can be potentially serious and in some cases it can lead to anaphylaxis which is a medical emergency.

Treatment Milk protein allergy

The treatment of milk protein allergy mainly involves avoiding foods and products containing milk protein. It is important to carefully read ingredient lists and be aware of cross-contamination risks. Here are some aspects to consider when managing a milk protein allergy:

  • Dairy-free diet: The most important step is to avoid all foods that contain milk protein including milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, butter and any product containing milk or milk derivatives.

  • Read ingredient lists: Accuracy is important. Read ingredient lists on all food packages to identify any milk products or milk derivatives.

  • Awareness of cross-contamination: Be aware of the risk of cross-contamination of traces of milk in food products and in restaurants. It may be necessary to ask for specially adapted dishes to ensure they do not contain milk protein.

  • Advice from a dietitian: A dietitian specializing in allergy and intolerance management can help to design a balanced dairy-free diet and ensure all nutritional needs are met.

  • Emergencies: People with severe milk protein allergy should have an emergency plan that includes the use of epinephrine injections (such as EpiPen) in the event of an severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis. It is important to know how to use these injections and have them available when needed.

Related tests and health checks

Allergy tests

Allergy tests


  • The test analyzes allergy to cow's milk.
  • Measuring levels of IgE antibodies in the blood.
  • May indicate an allergy to cow's milk.

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