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Can a Milk Allergy in Toddlers Cause Behavioral Problems?

by Melody Hughes

A major component of your toddler's diet is probably milk. Medical professionals and nutritionists usually promote milk as essential to good health for young children. However, if your toddler has been diagnosed with a milk allergy, drinking it may make him sick and also adversely affect behavior. In such cases, eliminating milk from your toddler's diet will likely improve both his physical health and behavior.

Incidence

According to the website AskDr.Sears, about 2 percent of children have a milk allergy. Another 3 percent of children are lactose intolerant. Toddlers who have a milk allergy experience adverse reactions to the proteins found in milk. MayoClinic.com advises that most children outgrow milk allergies by the age of 3. However, some children may never outgrow a milk allergy.

Allergic Reaction

Toddlers who are allergic to milk experience typical allergic reaction symptoms such as skin rashes, hives, watery eyes, runny nose and wheezing. The reaction may cause fluid build up in the ears and respiratory passages, which then results in recurring ear infections and colds. Other possible milk allergy symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Milk allergy symptoms may occur within minutes of drinking milk or they may occur hours later.

Behavioral Symptoms

A toddler with a milk allergy may not feel well because of respiratory and ear infections. A milk allergy may cause irritability and possibly even sleepwalking, according to AskDr.Sears. It is suspected that food allergies may contribute to symptoms of ADHD, autism, anxiety and depression, according to Food for the Brain. Children with such conditions often exhibit behavioral problems such an hyperactivity, impulse control, tantrums, defiance and learning difficulties. Speak with your physician about the relationship between diet, allergies and behavior.

Treatment

If you and your child's pediatrician suspect your toddler has a milk allergy, you will need to eliminate milk from your toddler's diet. AskDr.Sears notes that milk in baked food items, cheese and yogurt may not cause allergic reactions and may be tolerated well even by children with a milk allergy.

About the Author

Based in Laurel, Miss., Melody Morgan Hughes covers topics related to education, money and health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Education from William Carey University and a Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University.

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