Lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy


Q: Salam dr(s), my baby is now 13mo an fully bf. she’s allergic to cow formula milk because she once consumed formula milk and rashes started to appear all over her face. From my readings on the internet, it may be caused by cow’s milk allergy and also might be because of lactose intolerant. What’s the diff of these two? Is this a permanent condition? What should I do to ensure my baby is free from this allergy, should I try to feed cow’s milk to her to see if she’s still allergic to cow’s milk? ( D )


Hi D,

Cow’s milk allergy means a child developed reaction towards cow’s milk protein. They may manifest as a rash, if severe, with poor weight gain, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Lactose intolerance means a child is unable to digest lactose.
Lactose is the ‘sugar’ component in the milk. it is also found in breast milk. They rarely manifest as a rash, more commonly with diarrhoea, passing gas and abdominal pain.
Lactose intolerance can be congenital (born with it), or acquired. When it is acquired, it will be a permanent problem. If acquired, it can be due to a disease (eg celiac disease) which wiill be a premanent condition or due to post infection, which will be temporary.

Your baby’s rash may or may not be due to cow’s milk. It may be just a coincident. Moreover if it’s just rash, the allergic reaction is not severe. Thus you may want to try giving cow’s milk again later when she is older.

Unfortunately, there is nothing u can do to ensure your babu is free from this allergy. If this is recurrent, it’ll be advisable to seek further consultation for more detail history and perhaps some investigations.

I hope my answer is helpful.

( answered by Dr Aileen Wee )

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