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.
SYMPTOM ASSESSMENT TOOL
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.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF COW’S MILK PROTEIN ALLERGY
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COW'S MILK PROTEIN ALLERGY
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.
Breastfeed to startFor approximately the first six months of your baby’s life exclusive breastfeeding is recommended.
If for any reason you no longer breastfeed your baby and your baby has been diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, you will be directed by your pediatrician to use a special hypoallergenic formula.
Introducing Solid FoodWhen your baby is ready, around 6 months, start to introduce a variety of solid foods. After consulting your healthcare professional, babies should be offered allergenic foods including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life, even babies at high risk of allergy.1 If your baby has a known food allergy follow the advice from your healthcare professional. In case of any allergic reaction to food, stop giving that food and seek medical assistance without delay.
1. ASCIA Guidelines (2016) Infant feeding and allergy prevention, Retrieved 1st October, 2020 from https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/infant-feeding-and-allergy-prevention
Introduce New Meals CarefullyAs you start introducing solid food, the midday meal should be introduced first, followed by the evening meal and finally the afternoon meal.
On the first day, give your baby one to three spoonfuls of purée, increasing the amount every day, until at the end of the week you are giving your child a whole portion.
Cooked Foods are Easiest to Digest
Although raw food is healthy, it is better to feed your infant cooked or steamed fruit and vegetables at first. Heated food is usually easier to digest.
As a rule of thumb, fruit and vegetables that your child tolerates well when cooked can be introduced in their raw state after a few weeks.
Nutritional products for food allergy
BREASTFEEDING IS BEST FOR BABIES.
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.