What is the difference between cow’s milk allergy, cow’s milk intolerance and lactose intolerance?
Cow’s milk allergy, cow’s milk intolerance and lactose intolerance are different conditions, that sometimes get misused because their symptoms can be comparable, resulting in confusion.
In case of a (medically) confirmed cow’s milk allergy, an immediate immune system reaction takes place in response to the protein in cow’s milk. This usually happens within hours of ingestion and results in moderate to severe symptoms, which can include:
- Swelling around the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Vomiting and regurgitation
- Severe diarrhea
- Food refusal
- Failure to thrive
- Severe colic
- In rare cases, anaphylactic shock leading to death
A cow milk intolerance can occur when components of cow milk – either the fat, protein, or a combination of components – are digested poorly. This leads to symptoms that can be mild to moderate and can affect the skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. Symptoms can take days, weeks or even months to present and can include:
- Mild to moderate eczema
- Diaper rash
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loose stools
- Lung and nasal congestion
A lactose intolerance gives symptoms because of poorly digested lactose. Lactose is present in all milks produced by mammals (including humans) and is also called the milk sugar. A lactose maldigestion occurs in many cases after weaning and may lead to symptoms as described below and is in that case referred to as lactose intolerance.
- Abdominal bloating and cramps
- Rumbling stomach
If you are unsure which condition might be causing you or your baby’s problems, than always consult your physician before switching to alternative products like goat milk.
Can goat milk be an alternative in case of cow’s milk allergy?
No, if someone is allergic to cow’s milk it is very likely that there will also be an allergic reaction to goat milk. A cow’s milk allergy is mediated by the protein from cow’s milk. Although the protein from goat milk are different and contain less allergens, it is still very likely that a cross reaction will occur. Therefore we strongly advise against using goat milk as an alternative in case of a cow’s milk allergy.
Fortunately a medically confirmed cow’s milk allergy is pretty rare (only 1 to 3% of children under six have this condition), while there is a much larger group that experiences discomfort after consuming cow’s milk products. These consumers may suffer from a so-called cow’s milk intolerance where components in the milk – either the fat, protein, or a combination of components – are digested poorly. These consumers are likely to benefit from a switch to goat milk based nutrition.
Can goat milk be an alternative in case of cow’s milk intolerance?
In case of a cow milk intolerance components in the milk – either the fat, protein, or a combination of components – are digested poorly. Goat milk is naturally easy to digest and can therefore very well be a suitable alternative if a cow’s milk intolerance occurs.
My child is lactose intolerant. Do Kabrita formulas based on goat milk contain lactose?
Yes, Kabrita infant, follow-on and toddler milk contain lactose. If your child is lactose intolerant, than he or she will need lactose free nutritional products. However, a true lactose intolerance (lactase deficiency) is very rare amongst babies and young children, so make sure to ask your doctor or physician to examine your child and confirm this condition.
Can goat milk be a good alternative after a milk free period?
Yes, Goat milk is naturally easy to digest and contains less allergenic protein and is therefore a suitable alternative to start with after a milk free period. In countries like Russia it is the standard procedure to use goat milk after a milk free period. Please make sure to always consult your physician if you are thinking about using goat milk after a milk free period due to a severe allergy.