Symptoms of a Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance

The symptoms can vary significantly from one baby to the next - each presenting with one, or a combination, of symptoms. It is therefore essential that you seek advice from your Health Care Practitioner in order to determine the actual cause of your baby's symptoms.


Immediate type cow's milk protein allergy will present with "immediate" type symptoms as described in the food allergy section above. By definition "immediate" symptoms are caused within minutes to 2 hours after intake of foods containing cow's milk protein.


Symptoms may include:

  • skin rashes and swelling
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • breathing problems (wheeze or nosiy breathing)
  • even circulatory problems in severe cases


Delayed type cow's milk protein allergy may occur hours to days after intake of milk products. The protein causes an inflammatory response in various parts of the body. It can present in a variety of ways and in the young child may present with:

  • Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • Reflux which is severe or not responding to treatment
  • Tummy cramps or "colic"
  • Excessive gas
  • Irritability/restlessness
  • Failure to thrive/slow growth
  • Nappy rashes
  • Worsening of eczema (dry patchy skin rash)
  • Chronic chest problems or snuffly nose which is almost ALWAYS combined with gut or skin symptoms as above
  • Constipation


 This article has been co-written with Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.