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What's The Difference Between Milk Allergy And Lactose Intolerance?

Milk Intolerance vs. Dairy Allergy

2 mins to read Apr 1, 2021

At first glance, milk allergy and congenital lactose intolerance may sound similar but they actually way different, as each one of them refers to a totally different digestive disorder.


The first one is an actual food allergy caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to a certain protein in cow’s milk, whilst the second one is the digestive system’s inability to break down and digest lactose or the sugar found in milk, because of a lack of the enzyme lactase. 


Congenital lactose intolerance may be a genetic or inherited condition. It might also stem from a damage of the small intestine due to bacterial or viral infection.   

Symptoms of congenital lactose intolerance among older children - contrary to milk allergy spread among infants and babies of less than three years - include: stomachache, nausea, diarrhea, flatulence and bloating.

As for milk allergy symptoms, they vary between stomachache, nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, swollen lips and throat, as well as breathing difficulty. 

If your child shows similar symptoms, we advise you to take him to his pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis based on physical examination and questions about family history of allergic diseases.

If the doctor finds out your baby has a milk allergy, he shall ask you to continue nursing him for breast milk is the best nutrition for infants even those affected with milk allergy, provided that you stop drinking cow’s milk and limit most dairy products while breastfeeding. 

If breastfeeding is impossible for one reason or another, he shall introduce you to hypoallergenic formulas made of a light composition of proteins broken down to be easy to digest and to protect babies from allergy and many contagious and intestinal diseases. Then, he shall ask you to pick the best and most appropriate one to your baby’s condition based on trial and error approach, and on each baby’s reaction towards hypoallergenic formula.  


At the end, it is highly important not to disregard your baby’s symptoms and not to make any step to treat or alleviate same without consulting his pediatrician. After all, he’s your only source of credible medical information!


Read More: Is My Baby Allergic To My Breast Milk?

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