Cow’s milk is an important part of a healthy diet for many children, providing important nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamin D and vitamin A. But for some young children, it can come along with an uncomfortable side-effect.
Is constipation a sign of a cow’s milk allergy?
It’s not entirely clear whether or not the constipation some children experience when they start regularly drinking cow’s milk is the result of an allergy to the proteins in cow’s milk, but it’s a strong theory that several studies seem to support.
Children who have tested negative for cow’s milk allergies with skin prick tests have still benefitted from removing cow’s milk from their diet.
Dealing with constipation associated with cow’s milk
If your child is experiencing constipation that lasts for long stretches of time (sometimes as much as weeks), where he has very few bowel movements, or has trouble or pain passing bowel movements, the first thing to do is to make sure there’s enough fiber in his diet, and talking it through with his doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical reason for the constipation. A pediatrician may also recommend treating constipation with laxative treatments.
If adding fiber to his diet isn’t helping, and the pediatrician has ruled out illness as a reason for the constipation, you can talk to his doctor about removing cow’s milk, and other dairy products, from his diet for two to four weeks.
- Seyed-Mohsen Dehghani, et al. “The Role of Cow’s Milk Allergy in Pediatric Chronic Constipation: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 22(4): 468-474. December 2012. Retrieved November 20 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533146/.
- Stefano Miceli Sopo, Roberta Arena, Guglielmo Scala. “Functional Constipation and Cow’s Milk Allergy.” Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology. 59(3): e34. September 2014. Retrieved November 20 2017. http://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2014/09000/Functional_Constipation_and_Cow_s_Milk_Allergy.30.aspx.
- Cornelius W. Van Niel. “Chronic Constipation? Hold the Milk!” NEJM Journal Watch. July 21 2010. Retrieved November 20 2017. https://www.jwatch.org/pa201007210000001/2010/07/21/chronic-constipation-hold-milk.
- “Constipation in Children.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, February 28 2017. Retrieved November 20 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Constipation.aspx.