Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance

Cows’ milk protein intolerance is an allergy or immunological reaction to one or more milk proteins. It is much more common in babies who are formula fed, or who have mixed feeding. That is probably because there is little cows’ milk in breast milk.

Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance by Dr Orlena Kerek.

Symptoms of Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance

Symptoms may occur immediately, within a few minute or up to 2 hours after ingesting a small amount of cow’s milk. Symptoms may also occur later on, even the next day which can make it difficult to work out what the trigger is.

Anaphylaxis may also occur but it is rare.

Symptoms of cow’s milk protein intolerance normally appear within the first few months of baby’s life. They may appear after switching from breast milk to formula milk.

Prognosis of Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance

Most children out grow their intolerance by the age of 5 or 6 (some much earlier.) Very few children go on to have problems in adolescence.

Diagnosis of Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance

If cows’ milk protein intolerance is suspected, you will probably be asked to do a ‘challenge’. This is when you cut out cows’ milk for a period of time and then re-introduce it. (Don’t try to do it without medical supervision).

Treatment of Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance

If your baby is diagnosed with cows’ milk protein intolerance and you are exclusively breast feeding, you will be advised to cut out diary products (including hen’s eggs) to see if the symptoms improve. If your baby is taking formula, they will be given a different formula that is either based on a protein that isn’t cows’ milk (or soy protein) or by an amino-acid formula. All other foods should be stopped, but if this isn’t possible, they shouldn’t be given hen’s eggs, soy protein or peanuts. Your child will remain on a cows’ milk free diet for at least 6 months. At some time, cows’ milk can be re-introduced into your child’s diet. This should be done under medical supervision.

Another good reason to exclusively breastfeed

Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance by Dr Orlena Kerek.

Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance


Non-specific symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Rashes.
  • Swelling of lips or eyes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Cough and wheeze.
  • Can present as ‘colicky’ baby.