Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance

Children who are allergic to milk usually can safely take lactose, according to a study of milk-allergic children in the August 2003 Pediatrics. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, children with proven milk allergies were challenged with lactose and did not react.

Many parents confuse milk allergies with lactose intolerance.

True milk allergies are allergic reactions to the proteins in a particular kind of milk (such as cow’s milk protein in cow’s milk). Lactose is a milk sugar. Cow’s milk allergies usually get better as children get older.

Lactose intolerance usually gets worse, although lactose intolerant children can usually handle small amounts of lactose happily.

This study shows that for children with cow’s milk allergy, lactose is still a safe ingredient in processed foods, nutritional supplements, formulas, and medications. Conversely, children who are lactose intolerant (who lack the enzymes needed to digest lactose), can usually enjoy yogurt or lactose-free milk products.

If these children take lactase supplements to aid their digestion, they might also be able to tolerate common quantities of regular milk products.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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