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Milk Protein Allergy

more about Milk Protein Allergy


Milk protein intolerance, cow's milk allergy, allergy to cow's milk protein, allergy to soy-based infant formula



  • Most human infants can tolerate the milk from a cow, but if an infant is intolerant to the protein in cow's milk, a variety of acute and chronic symptoms can develop.  The symptoms may result from an antigen-antibody reaction, in which the antigen is the swallowed foreign protein, and the antibody is a protein from the human infant.
  • The proteins in cow's milk and soy-based infant formula (soy milk) are fundamentally different from the protein in human breast milk, and some infants react to this difference with acute symptoms (nausea, vomiting, Diarrhea, bloody stool, abdominal cramps).  Other infants develop more chronic symptoms (loss of the infant's protein into the stool, prolonged Diarrhea, Failure to Thrive, allergic symptoms).
  • Milk protein allergy usually causes symptoms within the first month of life
  • This allergy may affect the small intestine, colon, or both. When the colon is affected, it causes colitis.
  • Some infants who are solely breast-fed develop the same symptoms from maternal ingestion of cow's milk (which then passes into the breast milk).
  • Some infants(who are allergic to cow's milk) become allergic to soy milk when they are swiched to soy

  • As listed above
  • Constant crying or irritability
  • Recurrent Otitis Media (inflammation of the middle ear)
  • A generalized allergic reaction: wheezing or Hives

  • 4% of all infants are allergic to the foreign protein in cow's milk.

  • History of the above symptoms
  • Examination of the stool
  • In severe cases, biopsy of the mucosa of the small intestine or colon
  • Improvement of symptoms often occurs with a change to a formula of denatured protein (protein hydrolysate).  In these special formulas, the protein molecule is broken down into small fragments of the original protein.
  • Recurrence of symptoms when cow's milk protein is re-introduced.  Most infants with this condition can tolerate cow's milk protein by age 2, but might not tolerate large amounts of cow's milk.  Re-introducing cow's milk must be done under a physician's guidance because shock, diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea might result.


  • Removal of the offending protein from the diet.  Many infants with cow's milk protein allergy become allergic to soy-based formulas, and then need a formula containing protein hydrolysate.


  • Urgent evaluation by a physician is needed, since the condition may be serious.
  • Don't hesitate to contact your physician or emergency treatment center if you observe any of the above severe complications, especially shock or anaphylaxis.

  • Disaccharidase deficiency may be similar, but when the infant lacks the enzyme to digest certain sugars, abdominal bloating may be a common symptom.
  • Celiac Disease (intolerance to gluten protein, found in certain grains)
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis




more about Milk Protein Allergy


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