Breastfeeding an Infant With Cows' Milk Allergy

If your GP or an allergy specialist has confirmed that your infant has a cows’ milk allergy, also known as a cows' milk protein allergy, no doubt you will wish to ensure that your baby's diet is free of the protein in cows' milk that causes their symptoms.

If you are exclusively breastfeeding your infant, this won't mean a change in your baby's diet. But you will need to make changes in your own diet because cows' milk proteins can pass into your breast milk.

Exclude Milk and Any Foods Containing Cows’ Milk Proteins

You will need to exclude milk and any foods that contain milk from your diet. As the milk proteins in goats' milk and sheep's milk are similar to those in cows' milk, they can also trigger a reaction and should also be excluded. A milk protein-free diet not only means excluding all kinds of milk -- whole fat, semi-skimmed, skimmed and non-fat -- but also buttermilk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, milk-based drinks (including some smoothies), milk powder, butter, margarine, ghee, all kinds of cheese (including Parmesan, mascarpone, and cream cheese), yoghurt, fromage frais, crème fraîche, cream (including soured cream), ice cream, and frozen yoghurt.

As well as these dairy products, you will also need to check packaging labels for components of milk. Terms to look out for include:

  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Curd
  • Hydrolysed casein
  • Lactose
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Milk solids or milk sugar solids
  • Whey
  • Whey syrup sweetener

Milk might be added to prepared foods in both solid and liquid forms, sometimes as a flavouring such as in cheese and onion crisps. Below is a list of some of the types of processed foods that may contain milk:

  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Ready-made meals
  • Soups
  • Sausages and other processed meats
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Crisps, popcorn, and similar snack products
  • Pancakes
  • Rolls and other bakes
  • Biscuits, crackers, and cakes
  • Puddings and custards
  • Chocolate and other confectionery

 

Supplements

Milk and other dairy products provide a number of important nutrients such as proteins, minerals -- especially calcium -- and vitamins that are important for our bones and teeth as well as growth in children. For these reasons, it is important that you do not exclude dairy products from your diet without a confirmed diagnosis of a cows' milk protein allergy from your GP or allergy specialist, and that you follow the advice of a registered dietitian.

Your dietitian or GP may recommend that you take supplements that include 1,000 mg of calcium and 10 mcg of vitamin D. Non-milk foods that are naturally high in calcium include tofu, black treacle, tahini, sesame seeds, dried figs, almonds, soya beans, okra, kale, and hazelnuts.

Your doctor, or a dietitian, can give you advice on a cows’ milk protein-free diet.  

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Rob Hicks, MD on May 16, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Allergy UK: “Milk Allergy.”

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries: “Cows' milk protein allergy in children.”

Nemours Foundation: “About Milk Allergy.”

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