Milk Protein Allergy in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

In a food allergy, the immune system overreacts to certain foods. Normally, the immune system helps keep you healthy by defending against harmful germs. But in a food allergy, the immune system thinks something in certain foods is harmful. So it fights back with an allergic reaction.

Children who have a milk protein allergy are allergic to a protein in milk. The most common symptoms are a rash, an upset stomach, and vomiting or diarrhea. There may be blood in the stool. In babies, a milk protein allergy can cause a stuffy nose and trouble breathing. Symptoms are usually mild. But some children can have a severe allergic reaction.

The best way to treat this kind of allergy is to avoid milk and milk products. Your child might also be prescribed medicine.

Most children outgrow this kind of allergy between ages 3 and 5.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If you're breastfeeding, try to avoid milk and dairy products. Examples are cheese, yogurt, and butter. If your baby's symptoms get better, continue to avoid these products. Then talk to your doctor about how to slowly add one product at a time back to your diet.
  • If you're using formula, you can try a soy-based one. But some babies also have a reaction to soy. So you may need to try a hypoallergenic formula, such as Alimentum or Nutramigen.
  • When you begin to wean your baby from the breast or bottle, don't give him or her cow's milk right away. Talk to your doctor about the best way to start giving your baby cow's milk. If your child continues to have symptoms, don't give your child milk or milk products. This includes ice cream and cheese.
  • Read labels carefully. Learn other names for milk products. Look for words on the labels such as caseinate, curds, whey, and casein.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, have your child take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine for you or your child to carry in case your child has a severe reaction. Learn how to give your child the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and caregivers. Teach them what to do if your child has a severe reaction.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think your child is having a severe allergic reaction.

After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if your child feels better.

Call 911 if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over his or her body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
  • Your child has been given an epinephrine shot, even if your child feels better.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your child has bloody diarrhea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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