He is now 11 months old and is increasing his table-food intake. Since he appears to be allergic to some dairy proteins/components, should I attempt to introduce cheese and/or yogurt to his diet? If yes, which should I try first; is there a specific order? Is it possible he's allergic to whey or casein? From what I've observed, he hasn't reacted to items which may be cooked with milk/butter, i.e. bread and cake. Monterey, CA
A. That's a tough one. It is possible that he is allergic to milk, or it could have just been a coincidence, and unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell.
With a true milk allergy, it is usually the protein in milk that you are allergic to, including casein and whey. Symptoms can include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fussiness, hives, wheezing, and/or trouble breathing, and usually occur no matter what kind of dairy product that they eat. In cases like this, symptoms can occur when a baby drinks a cow's milk based formula or a breastfeeding mother eats or drinks dairy products herself.
On the other hand, children with a lactose intolerance can often handle some types of dairy products, but symptoms are usually limited to diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach pains.
So what should you do? Like I said, there is no easy solution or answer that is right one hundred percent of the time, but you might try to do one of the following:
- Continue breastfeeding until well into the toddler years so that you don't have to worry about introducing milk or other dairy products any time soon
- Ask your Pediatrician about trying a milk challenge, in which you try to reintroduce some dairy products back into his diet, perhaps starting with the ones that he has tolerated when you were breastfeeding
- Since any reaction could be worse next time if he does have a real milk allergy, you might consider having some allergy testing done to help sort this out. The Immunocap test is a simple blood test that can evaluate your child for a milk allergy and other common things that cause allergies. This is especially important if food allergies, or other kinds of allergic conditions, like eczema, asthma, or hay fever, run in the family. Unfortunately, unless your child has either very low or very high antibody levels against milk, the testing may still not be helpful. If he has intermediate levels of milk antibodies, it may be normal or it may indicate an allergy, which is one of the downsides of this type of testing.
- As an alternative to allergy testing, you could also see an allergist for further evaluation.