An allergic reaction towards the proteins present in cow’s milk is referred to a milk allergy. In fact, cow’s milk is known to contain more than twenty-five different molecules, each of which harbors the potential of inducing an allergic reaction. An allergy to milk is caused when a person’s immune system starts to react against the proteins present in the milk. This basically happens because the immune system fails to recognize the milk proteins as something harmless. Thus, whenever a person with a milk allergy consumes milk, a false alert is sent to their immune system, that harmful organism or entity has gained access to the body.
The immune system then tries to eliminate the substance, in the same way that it would eliminate a harmful chemical, virus or bacteria. The immune system releases granules that contain toxins, through specialized cells. These toxins are responsible for bringing about the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
This condition is very often confused with Lactose Intolerance. Even though the symptoms associated with these two conditions are very similar, milk allergy and lactose intolerance are two very different conditions. While a milk allergy is caused due to a reaction of one’s immune system, lactose intolerance is brought about when the amount of the lactase enzyme is not sufficient enough to break-down or digest the lactose. Milk allergies generally tend to go away on their own accord, by the time the child is about three to five years of age, however, some kids may not outgrow it. It has been found that toddlers, who are breastfed, are at a lower risk of developing this condition as compared to those that are fed formula. However, what exactly causes some children to develop this kind of an allergy has not been understood fully, though some link the cause to genetic factors.
An infant that has a milk allergy will display symptoms from the very start. The child could either experience the symptoms immediately after feeding or about a week after he/she has consumed the cow's milk. The former is referred to as rapid onset while the latter is referred to as slower onset. Toddler milk allergy symptoms include vomiting, gagging, loose stools, refusal to eat, colic, skin rashes and irritability. This condition may be difficult to diagnose for the simple fact that the symptoms are displayed by a large number of other ailments. If in case you think your child has a milk allergy, then consult their pediatrician immediately.