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Cow's milk (dairy) allergy

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

cow's milk allergy, cow, scared, milk, fear, milk, protein, cow

In infants an allergy to cow's milk is quite common. Around 1 in 50 infants are allergic to cow's milk, with most children growing out of this allergy by age 4.

How do I know my child has allergy to cow's milk

Up to 2 hours after consuming a small amount of cow's milk, even a small amount your child may experience symptoms such as hives, eczema, vomiting or diarrhoea, noisy breathing, wheezing or swelling in the face, Babies may lose their muscle tone and become floppy (this is a severe reaction and requires urgent medical care)

Several hours post consumption of a moderate amount of cow's milk a baby may develop vomiting, diarrhoea, blotchiness or notable skin redness.

After a large amount of cow's milk a baby may still develop symptoms so don't discredit the milk as the problem if it has been a couple of days since consumption.

How can I get my child's cows milk allergy diagnosed?

If an immediate response occurs, diagnosis is usually obvious and your GP should arrange for skin prick tests or blood specific IgE tests,

If response is much later, a referral to an immunology specialist may be required

NOTE:- tests such as the Vega test, kinesiology testing, Alcat or allergy elimination tests or IgG tests are not proven to be reliable. The IgG test will confirm that you have been exposed to a food, but not that you have any type of allergy to it.

What can my allergic child drink?

Over 90% of those diagnosed with a cow's milk allergy will also react to milk from other mammals.

Infants that have a cow's milk allergy are not recommended to consume:-

1. Cow's milk based including anti-reflux and lactose free cow's milk based;

2. Partially hydrolysed (pHF) cow's milk based (labelled as hypoallergenic or HA

3. Goats milk based formula

4. Soy infant formula if the child is less than 6 months of age

Other formulations not recommended due to allergenicity or a suboptimal nutritional profile include:-

  • A2 cow's milk

  • Rice drink

  • Oat drink

  • Soy drink

  • Almond or other nut drinks

  • Other mammalian milks (goat, sheep or camel milk)

  • Home made cereal/soy/nut drinks

It is recommended that you speak to a dietitian to obtain further information to ensure that your infant obtains good nutrition from a suitable non-allergenic formula.

There are many options available, but speak to a dietitian who has experience in milk allergy


Gippsland Dietetics can assist you with the choice of formula for your child once they are diagnosed as having a cow's milk formula. If you don't have diagnosis, Gippsland Dietetics can provide some information to assist but recommends formal diagnosis is obtained to ensure best milk formulation is provided.

Contact Gippsland Dietetics on 0428 411 051 or refer to for further contact information.


australian society of clinical immunology and allergy

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