by Lina Ristevska October 14, 2015

Tummy troubles, rashes and chronic congestion can all be caused by cow milk sensitivity. Here’s how to spot it, and how this common problem differs from cow milk allergy.

The terms “cow milk protein allergy” and “cow milk sensitivity” are often used interchangeably, though the prevalence and intensity of symptoms associated with each may be different.

Cow milk protein allergy (CMPA) affects 2-3% of children under one year while the prevalence of cow milk sensitivity is less defined in research. Clinical and parental observation suggests that many young children may have at least one symptom related to cow milk consumption.

Cow Milk Protein Allergy

Confirmed cow milk protein allergy (CMPA) can be a severe health problem. Children with ‘obvious’ CMPA will have an immediate reaction to cow milk that happens within hours of ingestion; for others, symptoms may delay. Symptoms will most commonly be moderate to severe in intensity and may include:

  • Swelling around the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting and regurgitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool
  • Food refusal
  • Failure to thrive
  • Colic
  • Severe eczema, rashes or hives
  • In rare cases, anaphylactic shock

Cow Milk Sensitivity

Cow milk sensitivity may encompass the delayed, mild to moderate symptoms associated with consumption of cow milk.

Digestive symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Colic
  • Loose stools
  • Constipation

Signs in the lungs and skin may consist of:

  • Non-illness related chronic runny nose
  • Non-illness related chronic cough
  • Non-illness related chronic congestion
  • Recurring ear infection
  • Eczema
  • Rashes

The Difference Between Cow Milk Sensitivity & Allergy

It can be difficult to tell the difference between allergy and sensitivity because symptoms may be similar. Many healthcare providers rely on the intensity of symptoms, serum (blood) IgE testing, and skin prick testing to guide their diagnosis. The gold standard diagnostic method for cow milk protein allergy is the ‘Oral Challenge Test’ involving the complete avoidance of cow milk, followed by a medically supervised reintroduction and monitoring of symptoms.

It’s important to know that goat milk-based foods, including baby formula, are not suitable for children with cow milk protein allergy (as they might also react to the protein in goat milk). Goat milk-based formula, such as Kabrita Goat Milk Formula, may be an alternative for little ones with mild symptoms related to cow milk consumption.

Since every child is different, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about whether your little one’s symptoms stem from allergy or sensitivity, and to discuss your feeding options.


Kabrita non-GMO Goat Milk Formula is designed to maintain the natural comfort of little ones during feeding transitions, such as weaning, supplementing or changing formulas due to skin or tummy troubles*. Join thousands of happy Kabrita Families and claim your free trial offertoday!

*Not suitable for cow milk protein allergy

Lina Ristevska
Lina Ristevska