A reaction to dairy is one of the more common food intolerances in children. If you suspect that your child is intolerant to milk, it’s important to make sure you have all the facts before changing their diet. First stop? The doctors – to make sure you’re not confusing a milk intolerance with something else, and if necessary be referred to an allergy specialist.
Milk intolerance and lactose intolerance
A milk intolerance has often been confused with lactose intolerance but these conditions are very different.
Lactose intolerance sufferers have a lifelong deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which helps to break down lactose – the sugar in milk. This can cause symptoms such as nausea, bloating and diarrhoea, which are also known effects of a food intolerance.
A milk intolerance meanwhile refers to the body’s reaction to the protein found in milk. The sufferer’s immune system wrongly interprets the proteins as a harmful invader and sends IgG antibodies to ‘attack it’, resulting in a range of inflammatory responses.
Whilst food intolerance in kids is much more common than lactose intolerance, the good news is that it does not have to be forever.
Our experts recommend substituting trigger foods with nutritional alternatives for a period of 12 weeks, before gradually reintroducing them back into the diet after this time.
Some children will find that their immune system has then “reset” and that they no longer experience the same symptoms when consuming their problem food.
Pin-pointing a milk intolerance
Visiting your GP should always be your first port of call if you suspect your child has a food intolerance. They will be able to rule out any underlying conditions.
Plus, if they too suspect an intolerance, they may recommend that you keep a food diary and cut out potential trigger foods one by one.
Another option is to undertake a food intolerance† test from YorkTest. Using a simple home-to-laboratory, finger-prick blood test, we will analyse your child’s IgG antibody reactions to 113 different foods at the same time, providing you with a fast result. This comprehensive list of 113 foods includes cow’s milk.
Our experts have developed a special programme for identifying food intolerance† in children. The YorkTest FoodScan Junior Programme is the only food intolerance test we are aware of for children in the UK, which is designed for 2-18 year olds.
Not only does it include laboratory testing and a comprehensive results pack, you will also receive expert advice with two 30-minute telephone consultations from our qualified nutritional therapists. They will help you to safely remove trigger foods from your child’s diet and replace these with nutritious alternatives.
Living with a milk intolerance
It can be very difficult for a parent to make the necessary changes to cater for their children’s food allergies and intolerances.
Replacing an ingredient like cow’s milk in your child’s diet presents a challenge because milk provides many important nutrients such as calcium and the vitamins B12 and B2.