Milk is a normal part of a child?s diet, particularly in his or her early years, but there are some instances where complications with digestion of milk create a frustrating situation for the child and the parents. Cow?s Milk Protein Allergy, or CMPA, is an allergic reaction to dairy most commonly found in infants under the age of 12 months, and it can affect anyone. Within the UK alone, an estimated 1.9 to 4.9% of all young children are diagnosed with the condition, but many grow out of the allergy by the age of 3. Parents who have children with CMPA want answers to their child?s discomfort, and quickly, but there are few GPs who understand the potential severity of the allergy or the correct treatment options.
For those who are unsure if cow?s milk protein allergy is the culprit behind a child?s medical issues, it helps to start with an evaluation of the symptoms.
Onset of Symptoms
When cow?s milk protein allergy is present in small children, it has the potential to cause serious damage and harmful side effects when not corrected immediately. This is because the immune system of a child reacts adversely to the protein found in cow?s milk which can lead to stomach or intestinal injuries. Unfortunately, the symptoms of infant CMPA are vague and common to other non-threatening medical conditions, leaving many parents with feelings of hopelessness and confusion in caring for the child. When the following symptoms are present and unmoved by other at-home or medical remedies, it may be time to visit the GP for a referral to a specialist:
- Skin rash
- Abdominal Pain
- Blood in the stool
- Facial swelling
- Stunted growth
Should these symptoms arise in an infant after ingesting cow?s milk, they constitute a red flag for parents. Any added lethargy, fever, unwillingness to feed, and weight loss should also prompt a consult with the GP and ultimately, a Pediatric specialist.
Cow?s milk protein allergy diagnosis is a challenge, even for the most seasoned GPs. That is because the symptoms are so varied, rarely presenting the same in every infant or young child. However, the right diagnosis, which often starts with an in-depth family history from the parents, can prevent harmful issues and injuries for the child as they continue to develop. The problem lies in the reality that recent research shows many GPs are unaware of the diagnostic processes necessary to identify and subsequently treat children with CMPA.
A legal team that handles medical negligence claims throughout the UK explains that many doctors believe that milk allergy symptoms are too often confused with or mislabeled as other medical issues. Nearly 80% of GPs believe that because CMPA symptoms are common among children with or without the allergy, a referral to a pediatric specialist often does not come. Without this crucial referral, parents are given no recourse for alleviating their child?s pain and discomfort, and no idea for what the actual underlying issue could be.
In some cases, when CMPA is identified, GPs without the help of a specialist dietician for children recommend a soy-based diet instead. However, this suggestion creates other problems for the child, like infertility as an adult and other allergic reactions that are difficult to overcome.
Resources for Parents
If a parent suspects a cow?s milk protection allergy in their infant, it is necessary to make a visit to their GP as soon as possible. Beforehand, however, parents may also want to identify the problem further by utilising this online symptom checklist specific to CMPA. Once a diagnosis is made, based on the GP?s evaluation and the parent?s own intuition and research, the good news is that there are alternatives that provide as many nutrients and health benefits to children as cow?s milk.
Alternative infant feeding is often an imperative aspect of treatment to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of cow?s milk protein allergy in young children. Although soy milk has long been used as a viable alternative, there are other options for parents who want to avoid the potential issues that arise from a soy-based diet. Tree nut milk, like almond or cashew milk, as well as rice or oat milk offer feasible solutions to CMPA for children. Parents should, however, take the time to consider the other caloric and nutritional values of each cow?s milk alternative before adding it to a child?s diet.