Cow's milk is one of the most common cause of food allergies in children. The good news is that it appears the majority of people with cow's milk allergy will outgrow their food allergy, though this can take many years. According to a study published in 2007 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, milk allergy resolved in 19% of children at age 4, in 42% by 8 years of age, in 64% by age 12, and in 79% by 16 years of age. It is thus important to re-appraise food allergies periodically with a board certified allergist to safely determine if the allergy has gone away.
Lactose intolerance is sometimes mistaken as a milk allergy, but it is not. Lactose intoelrance results from difficulties in digesting milk proteins. This compares to a milk allergy which results from an abnormal respose of the immune system.
The majority (90%) of cow's milk allergic individuals will also have an allergy to goat's milk. However, soy milk and rice milk are usually well tolerated in cow's milk allergic individuals.
90% of infants with cow's milk allergy will tolerate specially formulated cow's milk formula which are "extensively hydrolysed". This means that the milk particles are broken down into small pieces which the immune system may not recognize as cow's milk proteins. Extensively hydrolyzed formulas include Pregestimil, Nutramigen and Alimentum.
If extensively hydrolyzed formulas are not tolerated, you can use "elemental amino acid" formulas, where the cow's milk proteins are broken into even smaller particles. Elemental formulas include Neocate and EleCare.They are usually very well tolerated, but unfortunately also are very expensive.
Avoid foods that contain:
These foods may contain cow's milk:
Watch out for contamination from:
You can substitute cow's milk with water, soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk. You can substitute butter with milk free margarine, vegetable shortening, or soy butter.
You can also make your own milk substitute:
Cow's milk substitutes:
Each option below equals 1 cup of cow's milk:
Each of the following equals 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter:
If you don't want to make your own milk substitute, or do not like the taste of soy milk (or you are also allergic to
soybean), you may want to try Vance's DariFree milk alternative. It's made from potatoes (it is milk, soy, rice,
gluten free), and patients tell me that it works very well as a milk substitute for cooking.