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Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children: Prevention and Symptom Management

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Cow’s milk allergy does not have to be as scary as parents imagined.  Although the severity of the condition can vary for each individual, most children who are allergic to cow’s milk eventually recover after they have been given the way to manage symptoms. If your child is suffering from cow’s milk allergy, consult with a specialist doctor.

Prevention

Cow’s milk allergy is hard to prevent, especially in infants. However, a child’s allergic reactions can be lessened or avoided altogether by building your child’s immune system before they reach a year old. Parents can help their child become accustomed to common allergens by introducing them into the child’s diet. When your child is four months old, you can start giving him or her baby food with rice, chicken, fish, egg whites and egg yolks. Four to six months old is an ideal age for children to get introduced to these foods. Most children who do not receive such a diet at 4-5 months old will start becoming allergic to eggs and these other allergens around the age of three. Therefore, it is better to accustom your child’s immune system to them at a tender age, reducing the risk of the child developing severe allergic reactions when he or she is older.

If there is a history of allergies in your family, keep a special eye on your child’s diet and observe their reaction and weight very closely. Children with a family history of allergies are more at risk of developing allergies of their own. Premature babies and children with diarrhea or with damage in the intestines are also susceptible to the condition.

Symptom Management

Managing symptoms for cow’s milk allergy can vary on a case by case basis. For most cases, especially severe ones, the first step is to immediately remove cow’s milk from the child’s diet. This includes other diary products such as cheese, yogurt, cream and ice cream. Be careful not to let the child come into contact with shampoo, soap, lotion or other skin products with milk as part of the ingredient. If your child exhibits extremely severe allergic reactions, the doctor might advise you to remove other common allergens from their diet as well. These allergens are soy milk, fish, shrimp, nuts, wheat and eggs.

Instead of providing your child with normal cow’s milk, you can buy special milk from the pharmacy. Milk for children with cow’s milk allergy is more bitter than normal milk. Babies without fully-developed taste buds are better at consuming this milk than older children. For children who cannot get accustomed to the taste, they can get the required calcium and protein from other foods such as chicken, pork, rice, or calcium tablets. Contrary to popular belief, almond milk is not sufficient replacement for cow’s milk because it does not have enough protein.

While some children take 3-5 years to outgrow this condition, most children will recover from it after a year. The child will then again have to undergo the food challenge at the hospital. The test starts with the consumption of one drop of cow’s milk. The child can drink another one millilitre of milk 15 minutes later, if there’s no allergic reaction, and the amount will be increased until it reaches 30 millilitre. If the child displays no allergic reactions at all, cow’s milk can be reintroduced back into their diet. The doctor might also recommend other specific treatments on an individual basis.

Click here to learn more about symptoms and diagnosis of cow’s milk allergy in children. 

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