Diagnosing CMPA in infants and young children can be complicated as the symptoms are so broad and non-specific. The key is to spot the symptoms early and have the nutritional solutions readily available to shorten the often long and stressful process of managing the condition.
If, following a medical history and physical examination, there is a suspicion that a child has CMPA, the only valid way to actually confirm CMPA is by performing a food challenge/elimination diet using a therapeutic formula.
The challenge/elimination diet, which, according to major scientific societies is the gold standard, performed within four weeks is key for the accurate diagnosis of CMPA, and in the long term will avoid prolonged and unnecessary diet restrictions.
Although several different procedures exist to help increase the likelihood of a CMPA diagnosis, such as the serum specific IgE test, skin prick test and patch test, none of these can ultimately prove nor exclude a diagnosis of CMPA.
Various algorithms exist to diagnose and manage CMPA. The one below refers to the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and is for infants and children with symptoms suggestive of CMPA.
Koletzko S, Niggemann B, Arato A et al. Diagnostic approach and management of cow's-milk protein allergy in infants and children: ESPGHAN GI Committee practical guidelines. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012;55(2):221-9.