How to know that a baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein?
Between 2% and 7.5% of infants under one year of age suffer from or may develop this allergy
Milk is fundamental in feeding babies during the first months of life, however, little is known about a dangerous allergy that can cause.
Dr. Jorge Higuera Benítez, a gastroenterologist (*) pediatrician, explains that between 2% and 7.5% of babies under one year of age suffer from allergy to cow’s milk protein, which is the most common allergy in infants.
What is cow’s milk protein allergy?
Pediatrician Higuera explains that it is a disease of the immune system that causes an exaggerated susceptibility to the protein of cow’s milk.
It can occur in the first 6 months of life and the symptoms that manifest it are often confused with other diseases.
The expert explains that babies ingest this protein from infant formulas or directly from the mother’s breast, because if mothers eat cow’s milk they transmit this protein to the baby.
This allergy can manifest itself in several ways, but the most common symptoms are as follows:
- Appearance of skin problems such as hives or dermatitis
- Diarrhea with mucus and blood
“It is a mixture of symptoms, but the main problem is the skin, which complicates the diagnosis and can be confused with allergies to creams or shampoos,” warns the specialist.
Similarly, Higuera emphasizes that babies who have a history of allergies are more likely to develop this problem.
If your baby has these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should take him immediately to a pediatrician, as not addressing this problem has serious consequences such as malnutrition, low weight, anemia and even death.
When the baby is diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, the first thing the pediatrician must do is to remove from the mother’s diet cow’s milk and its derivatives, to prevent the baby from passing it on to the infant.
Likewise, it is important that in the first year of the baby the whole milk-based diet of cow is avoided completely.
If the baby takes milk from normal protein formula, it should be changed to a protein that is extensively digested or hydrolyzed.
The expert warns that this type of formulas should only be changed under the supervision and prescription of a pediatrician.
Check what to do in case of allergy to milk
Dr. Higuera explains that one of the most recent and successful ways to combat this allergy is through the probiotic Lactobacilius rhamnosus GG (LGG).
Studies have shown that this probiotic reduces treatment time and shortens disease time, which usually lasts between 12 and 24 months.
The probiotic LGG can be found included in some infant formulas that only the pediatrician can prescribe.
It is important that you do not substitute formulas or breast milk for other foods such as almond or soy milk because you could seriously affect your baby’s health.
“It is contraindicated, you should not give any formula of this nature before the first year of age, because they are not designed for the nutritional needs of a baby,” warns the pediatrician.
Is allergy to milk protein and lactose intolerance equal?
Higuera suggests that you should not confuse allergy to milk protein with lactose intolerance, since the latter has no reaction in the immune system.
Lactose intolerance causes digestive problems due to a sugar in milk, but does not cause an allergic reaction and is resolved by suspending the consumption of lactose.
Milk protein allergy, on the other hand, can last up to a year and is an allergic immune system response to milk protein.
To conclude, the pediatrician says that with a correct treatment, this allergy can be cured and can eliminate the odds of developing other allergies in adulthood as asthma.
(*) Dr. Jorge Higuera Benítez, pediatric doctor with subspecialty in Gastroenterology and Pediatric Nutrition by the Pediatric Hospital of the National Medical Center Siglo XXI
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