Milk is an important dietary requirement for children up until the age of one as it is crucial for healthy growth and development. However, there are some children who react badly to it. If you are worried that your child might have an allergy then don’t forget to check out our short guide to allergies in children.
What is a cow’s milk allergy?
A cow’s milk allergy (CMA) is a reaction to cow’s milk that results from a hypersensitive immune response to one or more milk proteins.
Milk is the most common cause of food allergy affecting at least 2-3% of all infants. This means that in the UK at least 10,000 babies will be affected.
Other common food allergens in children up to two years include soy, egg, peanuts and tree nuts, wheat, fish and shellfish. In rare cases some babies may react against food proteins from the mother’s diet which have passed into her breastmilk.
Allergy or intolerance?
Lactose intolerance should not be confused with a cow’s milk allergy. A food allergy, such as cows’ milk allergy, involves a reaction, immediate or delayed, of the immune system to the protein in a particular food.
Food intolerance is different as the reaction does not involve an immune response. For example lactose intolerance occurs because of the body’s inability to break down the lactose in milk, causing bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of a CMA are skin rash, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, failure to put on weight and distress. Most babies with cow’s milk allergy will experience two or more of these symptoms with eczema being the most common.
Most babies with cow's milk allergy develop symptoms within the first few months of life and it is rare for symptoms to begin after the age of 12 months.
Obtaining a diagnosis
It is important to obtain a correct diagnosis for milk allergy. Parents should consult a GP if milk allergy is suspected and request a referral to a specialist (e.g. Paediatric Allergy Specialist) if appropriate.
What should I do if my child has cow’s milk allergy?
Don’t panic. Despite milk being important for healthy growth and development there are other alternatives available. It is recommended that you completely remove cow’s milk from your child’s diet and replace it with a hypoallergenic formula which a healthcare professional will provide you with. This will provide fast relief of symptoms and ensure that your child is getting all the nutrients he needs to fully develop.
For further information and support visit www.actagainstallergy.co.uk