Milk allergy in babies
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Do not confuse lactose intolerance with CMPA
It is important to know the difference between lactose intolerance and CMPA (also known as CMA), as the two have different causes and also treatments; in addition, CMPA usually develops early in life, whereas lactose intolerance is extremely rare before the age of 5 years.
What is CMPA?
CMPA is a type of milk allergy where a baby's immune system responds to the proteins found in cow's milk, causing the baby to have allergic symptoms. These can include problems with the skin (rash, hives, dry, scaly or itchy skin), digestive system (diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and reflux) and respiratory system (noisy breathing, coughing, runny nose). CMPA usually occurs before a baby’s first birthday.
What is lactose intolerance?
In contrast to CMPA, lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system. Instead, it is the inability to digest the lactose sugar found in cow’s milk, and it is very rare in children younger than 5 years of age. Lactose is one of the most important carbohydrates (sugars) in breast milk and provides many benefits to babies. Lactose helps to promote healthy gut flora and calcium absorption.
CMPA vs. lactose intolerance
Understanding the difference
ALL ABOUT CMPA
When one parent has an allergy, a baby is twice as likely to develop an allergy than if neither parent has an allergy. However, while presence of allergy in family members can help identify babies with allergy, most babies developing CMPA do not have a known family history of allergy.
CMPA is a food allergy caused by a baby's immune system reacting to proteins in cow's milk. Some babies may develop CMPA after eating or drinking products containing cow’s milk protein, which can cause an immune reaction resulting in allergic symptoms.
There are a few different factors that can help explain why your baby may have CMPA (including inheritance and your baby's particular immune system). However, the reasons for developing CMPA are different for every baby, and there is no need to avoid cow’s milk in your baby’s diet unless your baby is diagnosed with CMPA.
There are different mechanisms behind CMPA, based on how a baby's immune system reacts to cow's milk proteins: IgE-mediated (antibody mediated) and non-IgE-mediated (non-antibody mediated). IgE-mediated symptoms of CMPA can occur within minutes of digesting cow’s milk protein, and normally result in rash (also known as urticaria), swelling of the lips and eyelids, vomiting and wheezing. Symptoms of non-IgE-mediated CMPA usually occur after a couple of hours of digesting cow’s milk protein and usually result in gut and skin-related symptoms. Depending on the observed symptoms and the underlying mechanism, your doctor may decide to perform different diagnostic tests.
YOUR STEPS ON THE CMPA DIAGNOSIS PATH
While the symptoms can be distressing, cow’s milk protein allergy can be easily managed with the correct diet, so getting the right diagnosis from your doctor as early as possible is very important. If you observe any of the symptoms that could be related to CMPA in your baby, firstly, don't worry. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and he/she will follow the steps to reach a final diagnosis. Follow the links below for information and guidance on the CMPA diagnosis path and the common signs and symptoms of CMPA.
UNDERSTAND THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CMPA
Learn more about the common signs and symptoms of CMPA
GETTING A DIAGNOSIS
Learn more about how CMPA is diagnosed