Is your child allergic to cow’s milk

Cow’s Milk Allergy is a common type of allergy among the little ones. Here’s how you can tell if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk.

You’ve probably heard parents voicing their concerns about their child having digestive health issues or advertisements highlighting food products made for children with Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA). If you’re not familiar with CMA, you’re probably puzzled about what it is. Is CMA the same as lactose intolerance? Here’s where you can find out.

Cow’s Milk Allergy

CMA occurs when your body’s immune system identifies milk protein as a harmful substance then fights against it. This will then trigger an allergic reaction in the body, when dairy is consumed, causing symptoms of CMA. According to the Mayo Clinic, CMA is the most common food allergy in children. However, this allergy can be experienced by anyone and at any age although it tends to be more prevalent among infants and younger children.

Those who have been diagnosed with CMA may also be allergic to other types of milk protein aside from cow’s milk. This could include sheep, goat and buffalo milk. If your child has been diagnosed with CMA, your doctor will probably advise you to avoid feeding him with any food product that contains dairy. If you are currently nursing your baby, you may have to refrain from consuming dairy products too. This is because milk protein can be passed to your child via breast milk.

CMA Signs & Symptoms

Here are some of the signs and symptoms that your child may be suffering from CMA:

  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Watery eyes
  • Colic (for babies)
  • Loose stools (may also contain blood)

These signs and symptoms can appear immediately or over a period of time. However, if your child develops any of the symptoms after consuming dairy, seek professional help and medical advice from an expert.

Identifying CMA

During consultation, your doctor may ask a series of questions about your child’s symptoms and medical history. This will go a long way toward arriving at an accurate diagnosis. Some of the questions your doctor may ask are “How quickly did the symptoms develop?” and “Do you or your partner have an allergy or do your other children (if any) have any allergies?”

Other than asking questions, your doctor may also proceed to do a series of tests which includes a blood test and/or a skin prick test, if needed. It is very important that you seek advice from healthcare professionals for a diagnosis of your child’s symptoms. Knowing the cause of your child’s symptoms will also help you to make necessary lifestyle adjustments which includes changing your child’s diet and refraining from dairy products if your child has been diagnosed with CMA.

Aside from that, you may also need to be aware of the type of food your child consumes. For instance, some calcium supplements for children may contain dairy as well and may not be appropriate for a child diagnosed with CMA. If you are wondering if your child may be allergic for life, there’s some good news. When a child gets older, he will usually stop experiencing symptoms of dairy allergies. However, for some children, it may be lifelong condition.

How can I ensure that my child gets sufficient nutrients?

If your child has been diagnosed with CMA, you may be worried that he will not obtain the nutrients he needs, especially during the growing years. If you are currently in this situation, do voice out your concerns to your child’s doctor or paediatrician who may recommend that you speak to a dietician for advice as your child’s calcium needs can change based on his age. However, you don’t have to be too concerned as there are many natural food sources, such as soy products and broccoli, from which your child will be able to get his nutrients.

In a nutshell, it is important for you, as a parent, to be aware of any changes in your child’s behaviour or physical appearance. Remember, CMA, just like other medical condition, should not be taken lightly. The good news is, with the necessary modifications, it is possible for your child to be symptom-free.

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The Burning Question

Is CMA the same as lactose intolerance?

The answer is no. Paediatrician at ABC Clinic, Dr. Chin Wai Seong explains, “Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of carbohydrate mainly found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system. Children with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose.  Usually, lactose intolerance happens after a tummy infection and it can last for about 4 weeks before the gut recovers. Lactose intolerance also happens more frequently in older children and adults compared to CMA, which usually affects young children.”

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