Recognising the Signs of CMPA among Children
Most children grow up on cow’s milk as it provides a substantial benefit to their growth and development in terms of nutrients like essential fats and proteins. Parents have relied on cow’s milk as a crucial part of a child’s diet for many decades, but that does not mean it is suitable for everyone. In some cases, the body reacts negatively to the proteins found in cow’s milk, leading to a cow’s milk protein allergy or CMPA. Within the UK alone, two to four percent of children under the age of three are diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. The good news is that many small children outgrow the allergy over time, most after age three, but when CMPA is persistent, it requires some level of medical intervention and often, changes to the child’s diet.
Although cow’s milk protein allergy is fairly common among young children, recent research highlights a growing concern of which parents need to be aware. Some doctors misdiagnose CMPA as “normal” infant behaviour, overlooking the potential severity of the condition and ultimately, foregoing any recommendations for treatment or alternatives. For parents who suspect their young child is having difficulty digesting cow’s milk, it is helpful to know the specific warning signs early on along with viable treatment plans to help ease discomfort and avoid further issues down the road.
Common Symptoms of CMPA
Many young children experience mild to severe discomfort from time to time, for a variety of reasons related and unrelated to cow’s milk protein allergy. It can be a challenge to know for sure when the symptoms listed here are connected to the immune system’s attack on cow’s milk protein. However, one of the clearest indicators of an allergy-related issue is the occurrence of one or more symptoms shortly after feeding. The warning signs that cow’s milk protein allergy may be impacting a child’s health include:
- A skin rash or redness
- A sore throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Upset stomach
One of the obstacles in getting a proper diagnosis of cow’s milk protein allergy in children is that some symptoms do not appear until several hours or days after feeding. Babies may have more irritability than normal, loose stools, or an unwillingness to feed long after ingesting cow’s milk. These delayed issues are often overlooked as another condition, or simply ignored altogether.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Even though there are several challenges in recognising cow’s milk protein allergy in infants, parents should seek out the attention of a medical professional if any combination of the symptoms above occurs consistently. Unfortunately, not all doctors are highly experienced in diagnosing the condition quickly. According to a leading medical negligence specialist, cow’s milk protein allergies often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because providers are not fully aware of the prevalence of the condition. Additionally, recent research shows that the vast majority of doctors believe their colleagues are misdiagnosing CMPA for an upset stomach or colic among infants. Missing the mark on determining the root cause of a child’s discomfort and symptoms could lead to a lifetime of digestive issues for children. However, when a correct diagnosis is provided, treatment can begin immediately, as can relief from the most common issues connected to CMPA.
The easiest way to treat cow’s milk protein allergy in small children is to introduce other milk products that do not include the harsh proteins found in cow’s milk. For example, rice milk, almond milk, or hemp milk may provide some of the nutrients necessary to keep a child growing and developing in line with other children his or her age, without impacting the digestive or immune system. It is necessary for parents to discuss these alternatives with their child’s doctor, though. Some cow’s milk alternatives do not contain enough protein, fat, or vitamins to sustain healthy growth and development, meaning a supplement may be necessary. Before adding a supplement to a child’s diet, it is critical to discuss these treatment options with the doctor at length.
The good news is that parents have resources available should a child be diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. However, it requires diligence on the part of the parents to ensure the child’s doctor is aware of and working to treat CMPA as soon as symptoms present. Should a pediatrician be unwilling or unable to make the correct diagnosis, or if a parent suspects CMPA after an intial doctor’s visit, seeking out a second opinion is often recommended to ensure the child is as healthy as possible.