Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. Not in vain, between 2 and 8 percent of babies suffer from it but it is not always diagnosed quickly and concretely.
As the mother of a child with this food allergy, I will tell you what are the symptoms that should put us on alert. Some are very clear and obvious, but others may become confused with common conditions of babies such as reflux or colic of the infant. Therefore it is important that we go to the pediatrician before any sign that makes us suspect.
Breastfeeding and APLV
Exclusive breastfeeding is the best shield to protect our baby from a food allergy, including the APLV. But unfortunately, breastfeeding does not ensure total protection and breastfed babies can also develop this or any other allergy.
This occurs, mainly, in children with a history of atopy, that is, with allergic parents (not necessarily cow’s milk) and / or asthmatics or with a sibling with CMPA. If that baby carries in your genes a significant atopic burden, it is most likely that the allergy ends up debuting without we can do anything to avoid it.
But there is a practice that we can avoid and of which, fortunately, more and more pediatricians and health personnel are aware of the dangers involved: the early and intermittent administration of formula milk while breastfeeding.
It would be the typical bottle of formula we give (or give our baby in the hospital without our knowledge or consent) while the milk rises. Or we resort to a sporadic night to rest. Or the “help” that we are advised to give the first days because it seems that “the baby has been left hungry” … This way of administering formula milk, increases the risk of suffering APLV in genetically predisposed individuals.
First Symptoms Warning
Whether you have chosen breastfeeding or are bottle-feeding, you may notice some strange behaviors in your child during the feeding. Does your baby arch while eating? Drop and take the nipple or teat with anger, as if he did not want to eat but at the same time was hungry ?. Are you anxious and nervous during and after the shot? Does he reject the breast or the bottle?
These symptoms to which, initially, the parents may not give importance, could choose an APLV. But if in addition, your baby is irascible most of the time, has very short sleep periods, seems to hurt the tripita or be uncomfortable, vomit to propulsion or regurgitate constantly, you should immediately consult your pediatrician.
Likewise, it is advisable to be alert to any unusual change in the color and consistency of stools if we talk about a baby fed exclusively breastfeeding. Stools with mucus, blood or a very strong smell can also be warning signs.
Types Of Food Allergies
There are two types of food allergies and one is usually easier and quicker to diagnose than the other:
- On the one hand there are IgE-mediated allergies whose symptoms are usually immediate to the intake of the allergen food. In the case of the APLV we would be talking about symptoms that appear after giving the bottle or the breast to our baby.
The most characteristic symptoms are rashes: the baby begins to fill with hives or pimples around the area of the mouth, chin, neck or other parts of the body. In addition, other associated symptoms may appear such as breathing difficulties, wheezing or swelling of the eyelids and lips.
Being very striking symptoms and sudden onset after taking, the diagnosis is usually not expected.
The IgE-mediated APLV presents symptoms of rapid onset and evolution and its diagnosis is usually clear
- But we can not forget the allergies not mediated by IgE, responsible for many babies are diagnosed after days, weeks or even months of really having a bad time.
In the case of APLV, these late and slow-developing symptoms are often confused with other common pathologies in babies, which is why their diagnosis sometimes reaches so late.
If your baby has colic at any time of the day, skin reactions in the form of eczema or diaper rash very rebellious, reflux, irascibility, stagnation or weight loss, abdominal pain, “odd poop”, vomiting … You could be in front of an APLV not mediated by IgE.
Non-IgE-mediated APLV presents late and slow-onset symptoms that may hinder and delay diagnosis
However, we must bear in mind that there are not two allergies equal so the symptom manuals should only serve as a guide to be alert in case of detecting something unusual. But, as in almost all things, a mother’s instinct is always the best of the manuals.
Steps To Follow After Diagnosis
If you have detected in your baby any of the symptoms described, it is important that you go immediately to a pediatrician (or to the emergency department of a hospital if you consider that the symptoms are serious) that will give you the precise indications on the first steps to follow.
It is likely that your pediatrician will refer you to a specialist who will follow up on your child’s allergy, as well as the necessary tests to confirm the suspicions of the diagnosis.
In any case, the treatment to be followed, whether an IgE-mediated allergy or non-IgE-mediated allergy, will be the exclusion of the baby’s diet from the allergen food, in this case cow’s milk.
If you are feeding your child formula milk you will have to replace it with a hydrolyzed milk (which should be prescribed by the doctor) and if you are breastfeeding it is best to eliminate cow’s milk and dairy products from your diet, for continue breastfeeding safely.
Is APLV Same As Lactose Intolerance?
Do not!. Unfortunately it is common for confusion to occur between the terms “milk allergy” and “lactose intolerance” but it is very important to know how to differentiate both pathologies because the patient’s life depends on it.
In a food allergy (whether mediated by IgE or non-IgE mediated), the immune system comes into play when considering milk proteins as an enemy to fight against.
On the other hand, we must know that an allergy can compromise the patient’s life if anaphylactic shock occurs, so in the most severe cases will be prescribed autoinjectable adrenaline for the allergic to always carry it.
In lactose intolerance does not come into play the immune system but the digestive system. The patient is unable to digest lactose (the milk sugar) and alterations occur in the intestine that in no case will compromise the patient’s life or require adrenaline. A lactose intolerant person may continue to consume dairy products as long as they are free of lactose.
The problem is that in some cases, APLV not mediated by IgE can present digestive symptoms very similar to those of lactose intolerance, hence there are ambiguities and delays in its diagnosis. But it is important to know the differences and use the terminology correctly.
An allergic to cow’s milk should immediately withdraw milk from their diet. A lactose intolerant can continue to consume milk if it lactose-free
The allergy to cow’s milk proteins has nothing to do with lactose intolerance, neither in severity of symptoms, nor in development, nor in prognosis. And although it is the first food allergy that debuts in childhood, it is also usually the one with the best cure prognosis.
In any case, whether it is an IgE-mediated or non-mediated allergy, with severe or less severe symptoms, the treatment will always go through the elimination of milk from the baby’s diet.