Milk allergy is a common problem; 2% to 3% of children are affected by it. While most children present with a mild degree of problems such as eczema and stomach complaints, rarely the milk allergy can cause serious reactions. Many parents want to know when their children will stop suffering from milk allergy.
Research shows about 50% of children will get rid of their allergy to milk by five years of age. Another 20% will be able to tolerate milk products by five years even though they may show allergy to whole milk.
The onset of milk allergy can occur very early as early as the first month of life. The symptoms are caused by immune changes in the gut in response to milk allergy. These changes can be due to the production of an antibody called IgE antibody or due to infiltration by immune cells causing damage to the intestines.
The acute reactions which most parents are worried about, are IgE-mediated reactions, which can result in life-threatening types of events in rare cases. More commonly we see patients with worsening skin rashes (eczema) due to milk allergy. The good news is that more than half of them will get some relief by five years of age.
Recurrent diarrhea is another reason why infants are brought to the pediatrician – which can be associated with allergic reaction. Recurrent diarrhea can lead to malnutrition in some cases. The IgE mediated allergy can be followed by infiltration by an immune cell called the eosinophil which can lead to damage to the lining of intestines. The eosinophils accumulating in high concentration in different parts of gut such as esophagus, gastrointestinal tract, and colon can result in vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, failure to gain weight.