Demystifying Milk Allergy: Separating Facts from Fiction

by Ella

In Israel, approximately 1%-2% of infants grapple with a milk allergy, a condition that typically resolves itself by the age of five. The root cause of this allergy lies in an immune system “error” that triggers a reaction against one of the proteins in milk, often targeting cow’s milk. Despite the prevalence of this condition, myths and misconceptions surrounding milk consumption and its impact on allergies persist. Dr. Yossi Rosman, a specialist in internal medicine, allergies, asthma, and clinical immunology at Rambam Health Care Campus, aims to debunk some of these myths and provide clarity on essential aspects.


Breastfeeding and Diet of Mothers with Milk-Allergic Infants

Contrary to common belief, a mother with a baby diagnosed with a milk allergy can still breastfeed the child and consume dairy products herself. Dr. Rosman emphasizes that the allergy in the newborn does not prevent the mother from breastfeeding.


Skin Exposure and Smelling Milk

There is no documented evidence of dangerous reactions to skin exposure to milk or the mere smell of it. Dr. Rosman notes that while the smell might cause irritation for those allergic to milk, there is no known risk associated with skin exposure. However, he points out that kissing lips with milk residue may cause localized redness.


Outgrowing Milk Allergy

A significant percentage of individuals with milk allergies outgrow the condition by the age of five. Dr. Rosman underscores the importance of close medical monitoring for allergic children to identify when the allergy has subsided.


Addressing Lactose Sensitivity

For those dealing with lactose sensitivity, Dr. Rosman suggests consuming lactose-free dairy products or taking lactase pills containing the missing enzyme before having dairy products. This approach can help individuals overcome their sensitivity.

Dr. Rosman emphasizes that children with eczema or a family history of atopy are at an increased risk of developing food allergies, including milk allergy. Studies also indicate that early exposure to milk can reduce the prevalence of milk allergy in infants at elevated risk. However, consistent and regular exposure to milk products is essential. Dr. Rosman recommends maintaining exposure once a day in combination with breastfeeding from the moment the decision is made to introduce the infant to milk or a milk substitute.

In case of any allergy symptoms following exposure to milk products, seeking advice from a general practitioner or allergy specialist is advisable. For severe cases, immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency medical facility is recommended.


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