5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk allergy is an overreaction of the body to the protein content in cow’s milk. According to a report in the journal Sari Pediatric In 2015, it was estimated that 1 in 10 children in Jakarta had food allergies, the most common cause of which was the consumption of cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk allergy in children is not a rare occurrence. However, you still need to know how to solve the problem. No need to be confused, you can follow the steps below.

1. If you are still in doubt, check your child to the doctor

5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow's Milkillustration of a child’s examination by a doctor (pexels.com/Pavel Danilyuk)

Symptoms of a cow’s milk allergy can involve a variety of organs, including:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
  • Respiratory symptoms: Like wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Skin symptoms: Like swollen lips, hives, and itchy skin.

according to Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Cow’s Milk Allergy from the Indonesian Pediatrician Association (IDAI), these symptoms can appear more than 1 hour after consuming cow’s milk. This can be confusing, because it is difficult to tell whether these symptoms are due to cow’s milk or another disease with similar symptoms.

Therefore, make sure your child has been examined by an experienced doctor. If necessary, the doctor can perform a skin prick test (skin prick test) or measurement of allergy marker antibody levels (immunoglobulin E or IgE tests).

2. Stop consuming cow’s milk

5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow's Milkmilk and cheese illustration (freepik.com/Racool_studio)

Once proven to have allergies, the first thing to do is stop consuming cow’s milk. According to the IDAI Medical Services Guidelines, children are not advised to consume cow’s milk again within a minimum of 6 weeks, starting from the time the allergic reaction appears.

Not only cow’s milk, consumption of dairy products must be stopped temporarily. Examples of derivative products from cow’s milk include cheese, butter, yogurt, mayonnaise, and ice cream.

Also Read: These 10 Allergy Myths Need To Be Attentioned, Check The Facts First!

3. Looking for other alternatives to cow’s milk

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5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow's Milkillustration of dairy products on the market (pexels.com/Nothing Ahead)

During the taboo on cow’s milk, your little one can be given other types of milk to meet their nutritional needs. One option is soy milk. Soybeans do not contain cow’s milk protein, so they are considered safer for children who are allergic to cow’s milk.

Unfortunately, soy still does not compete with cow’s milk in terms of calories and nutrients. According to a report entitled “Use of Soy-Based Formulas and Cow’s Milk Allergy: Lights and Shadows” in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics In 2020, soy milk has lower total calories, fat, protein, calcium, and iron than cow’s milk.

Another option is hydrolyzed cow’s milk. This milk is made by breaking down the protein in cow’s milk until it is crushed using a chemical process. That way, allergic reactions can be avoided. Unfortunately, this type of milk is more expensive and not widely available in the market.

4. Monitor the child’s condition regularly

5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow's Milkillustration of taking care of children’s health (unsplash.com/NeONBRAND)

The good news is that not all cow’s milk allergies are permanent. According to the IDAI Medical Services Guidelines, more than 50 percent of children with cow’s milk allergy can improve at the age of 1-3 years.

After the allergic reaction subsides (usually within 6 weeks), the child can be tried again to consume cow’s milk again, but in small amounts first. This process is called the provocation test.

The thing to note, you should not do a provocation test without a doctor’s supervision. This provocation test can cause an allergic reaction again, so you must follow the correct procedure.

5. Not getting better? Refer immediately to a pediatrician

5 Steps for Handling Allergies to Cow's Milkchecked by a pediatrician (unsplash.com/National Cancer Institute)

Some children who are allergic to cow’s milk will experience improvement after 6 weeks of abstinence. If the allergic reaction does not improve or even worsens, do not hesitate to make a referral to a pediatrician.

In addition, pay attention to severe allergy symptoms during monitoring. These symptoms include refusal to eat, failure to thrive, shortness of breath accompanied by snoring, symptoms of lack of blood, and loss of consciousness. If these symptoms are found, the child should also be further examined by a pediatrician.

Handling a child with a cow’s milk allergy is not complicated, but requires patience and discipline. Don’t be discouraged, OK!

Also Read: Peanut Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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