Food hypersensitivity Key Fact Block

Food allergies and non-allergic food hypersensitivities in babies and young children can present a real challenge. Until a diagnosis is reached, the process for parents, children and healthcare professionals can be a long and stressful one. 

Non-allergic food hypersensitivities, such as intolerances, arise because the body is unable to digest or reacts to certain naturally occurring component of foods, i.e., lactose or fructose, or, less commonly, food colouring, additives or preservatives. Non-allergic food hypersensitivities do not involve the immune system and are much more common than food allergies. 

Food allergies arise due to the body’s immune system reacting to certain, normally harmless, allergy-triggering substances (allergens) in food. These allergens are almost always proteins. Proteins are one of the essential nutrients that make up the body, together with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat. Other components in food, such as lactose and sugar, do not act as allergens. Certain allergens cause more reactions than others. 

The prevalence of food allergies, especially in the first years of life, has increased dramatically in the last 10 years or so. The challenge to find better ways to prevent and manage food allergies is a pressing one.

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Here are the top eight allergens accounting for approximately 90 percent of all allergic reactions to food in children. 

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Cow’s milk protein allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children

Although cow’s milk protein is one of the most common food allergens in babies and toddlers it can be difficult to diagnose. Cow’s milk protein allergy occurs when a baby’s immune system reacts negatively to the proteins in cow’s milk. If breastfed, the reaction is to the cow’s milk protein ingested by the mother and passed to the child through the breastmilk, and if formula-fed, the reaction is to the milk protein in the formula. 

In both cases the body’s immune system sees these proteins as foreign and in an effort to protect itself, the body releases natural substances, such as histamines, which cause the allergic symptoms that your baby might be experiencing.

Cow’s milk protein allergy generally occurs for the first time between the third and fifth month of life in affected children, but can also develop later in life. 

Lactose intolerance is not the same as cow’s milk protein allergy

Cow’s milk protein allergy and lactose intolerance are often confused. Although some symptoms such as diarrhoea, are similar, lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the lactose found in both cow’s milk whereas cow’s milk protein allergy is an immune reaction to certain proteins within these milks. Lactose intolerance is extremely rare before 3 years of age, even in those with cow’s milk protein allergy. After all, breastmilk naturally contains a high amount of lactose.


Are you concerned with cow’s milk protein allergy? To prepare for your next health visit and help your doctor make a correct diagnosis, download the symptom checklist today.


The signs and symptoms linked with cow's milk protein allergy, ranging from colic and reflux to constipation, diarrhea and crying, make diagnosis a real challenge. 

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Eczema? Reflux? Constipation? Diarrhea? Crying?

Do you suspect that your child has a food allergy?
Cow’s milk protein allergy is one of the most common food allergies in the first year of life.


This calculator is designed to help determine if there is enough calcium in the diet of children diagnosed with CMPA. Use this easy tool to help ensure the daily calcium requirements are being met for your child.

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Calcium Deficiency

Having an allergy to cow’s milk is common in children – it affects about 1 in 50 babies, although most children grow out of it by the time they are 5. A cow’s milk protein allergy can be mild or severe…


Nutritional products for food allergy


Nestlé Health Science has a range of paediatric products that can assist in maximising nutritional intake across a wide range of conditions including food allergies.

ALFARÉ® and ALFAMINO® are Infant Formula Products for Special Dietary Use. Products are not suitable for general use. ALFAMINO® Junior is a food for special medical purposes specifically formulated for children with severe allergy and/or food intolerances. Products must be used under medical supervision.

Breast milk is best for baby and provides ideal nutrition. Good maternal nutrition is important for preparation and maintenance of breastfeeding. Introducing partial bottle feeding could negatively affect breastfeeding and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Professional advice should be followed on infant feeding. Infant formula should be prepared and used exactly as directed or it could pose a health hazard. The preparation requirements and cost of providing infant formula until 12 months of age should be considered before making a decision to formula feed.

Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding even when their infants have cow’s milk protein allergy. If a decision to use an infant formula for special dietary use is taken, it must be used under medical supervision.