Cow’s Milk Allergy in Kids: What Is It and What Can We Do?

Is your child itchy? Colicky? Always has an achy tummy? Find out what cow's milk allergy is and what you can do about it 🤔


In 2018, experts from the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (PSAAI) raised the flag due to the increasing number of food allergies cases that have been observed in the country. Prevalent in these are caused by consuming infant formula.

It has been found that a majority of these cases are among babies who are on formula feeding because they cannot be breastfed due to a number of reasons, especially between infancy up to the first six months of life. Let’s get to know how this affects children’s health.

What is cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA)?

Just like any other allergy, non-breastfed babies who display reactions to formula milk containing cow’s milk protein have immune systems that tend to overreact to the substance. The body’s defense mechanism against foreign invaders tags cow’s milk protein as harmful and fights them off.

How does CMPA differ from lactose intolerance?

Unlike cow’s milk protein allergy that triggers the immune system to act out in a specific way, lactose intolerance is due to the natural lack of the enzyme lactase in the body. This supposedly breaks down lactose found in milk sugar and other dairy products. In the absence of lactose, it disables proper digestion of the food.

Since most baby formulas contain cow’s milk, CMPA is common in little ones. While other children outgrow it eventually, some kids carry the allergy throughout their lives. Some cases are life-threatening, that’s why CMPA should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fussiness;
  • Rashes;
  • Itching and swelling;
  • Colic;
  • Coughing and wheezing;
  • Upset stomach;
  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Watery and itchy eyes; and
  • Difficulty in breathing.

What can we do?

It is imperative to consult your child’s pediatrician to ascertain whether what your baby is experiencing is CMPA or lactose intolerance. The doctor could perform blood tests, stool exams, or other assessments depending on the severity of the symptoms. The results can guide you in either changing his or her diet, bringing your baby back to breastfeeding, or making the switch to another formula milk.

Soy-based formula milk

Starting in 1909, feeding infants with soy protein milk have been proven trustworthy by mothers worldwide. Soy-based infant formulas contain vitamins such as thiamine, folate, riboflavin, and Vitamins D, E, and K.

Soy formula is low-fat and cholesterol-free. This lowers the risk of obesity and heart diseases in children. Also high in fiber, soy protein formula-fed babies are less likely to experience troubles in bowel movement.

Avoiding life-threatening levels of cow’s milk protein allergy is not to be overlooked. Even with the many promising benefits of soy-based formula milk, make sure to get your doctor’s approval before changing formula-feeding products. That way, no health issue will recur and aggravate your child’s overall well-being.

*Always seek the direct advice of a medical professional for any health issues or concerns. Plus, the use of any milk products for children 3 years old and up should always be upon the recommendation of your Pediatrician.

Published with Morinaga Nutrition.

References: MayoClinic, Philippine Star, Food Allergy


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