True Milk Allergy: Symptoms and How to Help Your Doctor Make the Correct Diagnosis

Symptoms of a true milk allergy and how to help your doctor diagnose this condition accurately.

A true milk allergy is not the same thing as being lactose intolerant. Milk is the most common food allergy in babies and children; however, a true milk allergy affects only approximately 3% of the population, according to a study in the 2007 Journal of Allergy and Children.

To be diagnosed with a true milk allergy instead of lactose intolerance will require specific symptoms and a strict diet. Although a true milk allergy can cause many health problems, most children outgrow it by the age of three.

Bloody Stools

One symptom of a true milk allergy is blood in the stool. This occurs because when the body has an allergic reaction to milk, the colon will start to have tiny pinpoint hemorrhages. The color of the blood is generally bright red and is streaked or mixed in with the stool.

Mucous in Stools

Those who have a true milk allergy also will experience mucous in their stools due to the damage to the lining of the colon. It is a mixture of undigested lactose from milk and inflammatory cells that have been triggered by an allergic reaction.


Vomiting is another symptom of a true milk allergy. Babies may produce normal spit-up or may have projectile vomiting.


Pain is usually reported with those who suffer from a true milk allergy. The increased gas production and cramping makes them very uncomfortable and until the proper dietary changes are implemented, the pain will continue and may even get worse.

Rash is an often overlooked, but important symptom of a true milk allergy. The type of rash to look out for is an eczema rash. It will be dry, red patches on the cheeks, backs of the arms and legs, but it can also show up anywhere on the body.

Diagnosis Problems

It often takes several months to years for your baby to be properly diagnosed. This is because there is not any special laboratory test that can confirm or deny a true milk allergy and because it is a rare condition. Doctors are more likely to diagnose your child with lactose intolerance and prescribe soy formula and milk products. Soy is wonderful for those that are lactose intolerant, but useless to children with a milk allergy.

Help Your Doctor with the Diagnosis

Stay persistent and keep a food diary and symptom log to bring to your doctor’s office. If physical symptoms are present, then taking pictures might help your pediatrician come up with an accurate diagnosis.


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Taylor Rios
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