milk allergy vs. lactose intolerance

A milk allergy is not lactose intolerance.  This is confusing, which is fine for the average person, but not fine for my daughter’s daycare, where they posted a note saying she was lactose intolerant, gave her lactose-free milk and put her in the hospital last week.

Put simply, a milk allergy is an immune system problem, and lactose intolerance is a digestive problem.   The milk allergy is much more serious, affects 2-4 percent of all infants, with potentially severe consequences.  It means avoiding all milk proteins, even small amounts of stuff like “casein” that gets dropped into the most random products.   It definitely means avoiding lactose-free products.  Lactose has nothing to do with milk protein.

Most of the kids outgrow the allergy, though I have been finding some articles that say it happens later than first thought.

So I should not be worried that she still has the allergy at the age of three.  But I should be worried that it could last until she is 16.

I happen to be lactose intolerant, mildly.  This means I can eat dairy but might pay the price later of a stomach ache.  It comes in handy now because Daddy also does not eat cheese, which NK really likes.  “Only Mamma!”

In the United States, there was a new labeling law passed in 2006, which requires all possible allergens to be listed in bold.  This is great.  They do not do this in Sweden yet so I have had to learn all the sneaky Swedish names for milk protein.  And Swedes love their milk protein, putting it seemingly into twice as many foods as the US.  On the flip side, the allergy care we get here is 20 times better than what we got in the US.


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