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Our daughter was breast-fed until about 1 year-old, with a variety of table foods as she got older. During this time she would ocassionally get skin rashes, but we didn't think much of it.

When she turned 1, we started her on whole milk, and a normal balanced diet. In the 6 months since then, she is averaging about one ear infection per month, and has chronically dry skin.

She got ear tubes, but she continues to get regular ear infections. Now her doctors are recommending adenoid removal. Before we go to that, we want to consider that both the skin trouble and ear infections might be allergic reactions. The most likely allergy seems to be dairy products. We've started her on soy milk, and she's gotten another ear infection since then. But we haven't tried completely eliminating dairy from her diet (because that is very hard to do!)

Are there any reliable ways to tell if she is having a reaction to dairy products? If we were able to completely eliminate dairy from her diet for some time, should we expect the skin trouble and ear infections to completely go away (assuming they were are a reaction to dairy)?

Update: We've had our daughter on no dairy for about a month now. Her skin has been about the same, and she's gotten her usual monthly ear infection. We are now pretty confident that she doesn't have an issue with dairy. To confirm that, we plan to heavily reintroduce dairy to her diet. Assuming no noticable changes at that point, we'll assume she's good.

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Have you asked your pediatrician explicitly about lactose intolerance? What was the response? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 12 '11 at 6:12
    
@torben We have, and he said it is a good possibility, but didn't have any suggestions for how to test the theory other than eliminating dairy entirely. –  bwarner May 12 '11 at 11:39
    
We have one who seems to have a lot of phlegm in her throat after dairy products and think this is some kind of lactose intolerance coming through; can I edit the question to add this to it, as I am very interested in the answer? –  Hairy May 17 '11 at 8:30
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@Hairy It probably makes more sense to make your own question, that way you get pinged when there are answers/comments. I'm not familiar with this particular site's rules, but I would think you could ask "Is this a sign of lactose intolerance" and explain your situation. –  bwarner May 17 '11 at 11:42
    
Thanks @bwarner –  Hairy May 17 '11 at 11:44
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4 Answers

It's important to distinguish lactose intolerance from dairy allergy.

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body loses the ability to digest lactose. Someone with lactose intolerance can consume lactose-free dairy products (including hard cheeses) without trouble; lactose-containing dairy products will cause gastrointestinal upset, but no other problems.

On the other hand, a person with dairy allergy will be unable to consume dairy products at all. The symptoms of dairy allergy are typical allergy symptoms, ranging from rash or itchy mouth to anaphylactic shock.

Lactose intolerance in young children is rare. Among populations where lactose intolerance is normal, it develops around the ages of five to seven years; among Europeans and other groups where dairy products are historically a large part of the diet, it develops in adulthood if at all.

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Same here, except we are dealing with milk protein which means not even lactose free milk. My 2-year-old gets a rash on her tummy and a runny nose which then means an ear infection. No milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. means no ear infections.

Also, soy is also a very very common allergy so while you are trying to decide, I'd avoid soy products as well.

One more thing - if you do start her on rice milk, it has quite a bit of sugar in it so be sure to start on a good toothbrushing schedule. We didn't and she's showing signs of decay now.

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How did you determine it was milk protein and not just lactose? –  bwarner May 13 '11 at 21:57
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I've had kids with lactose intolerance too. It is more common then most people realize, and can show up in a variety of ways (not just rashes and ear infections, although those are the most common).

Two ways:

  1. Eliminate dairy completely for a short amount of time - it is possible to do.
  2. Take them to an allergist and have them tested.

We eliminated all dairy from our kids diets and their ear infections went away. It was actually at the recommendation of a Chiropractor who we had great success with his treating their chronic ear infections. I would suggest finding a local Chiropractor (find one that treats young children) to treat the ear infections while you are eliminating dairy.

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Both of my kids have some form of lactose intolerance. Whenever they have milk, they develop a mild rash. Take the milk away for a few days and the rash goes away.

We've switched to soy- and rice-based alternatives for now, and try to give the children some milk once every few months to see if it helps.

Our oldest, who is five, now shows less signs of rash, while the youngest, who is almost two, reacts every time.

I hope this helps, Roy

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