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Is lactose intolerance the same as milk allergy?

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No. Milk allergy is a reaction by the body's immune system to the protein in milk.1 Symptoms of milk allergy include hives, skin rash (eczema), and stomach pain. It is a common allergy in infants and children.2

Some parents confuse milk allergy and lactose intolerance. Milk allergy usually appears in the first year of life,1 whereas symptoms of lactose intolerance are uncommon before age 2 or 3 years.3 Most children outgrow milk allergy.2,3

If milk products seem to be a problem for your child, talk to your child's health care provider. Only a health care provider can tell whether your child's symptoms are caused by an allergy, lactose intolerance, or something else.2

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2009). Lactose intolerance. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from [top]
  2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2010). Food allergy: An overview. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from [top]
  3. Heyman, M. B.; AAP Committee on Nutrition. (2006). Lactose intolerance in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics, 118(3), 1276–1286. PMID 16951027 [top]

Last Reviewed: 05/06/2014
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology