Signs and symptoms of CMPA

Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA), also known as cow’s milk allergy (CMA), is a common food allergy (or dairy allergy). While most babies with CMPA experience digestive problems (such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and reflux), skin problems (such as hives and eczema), respiratory symptoms (such as persistent cough and wheezing) and other more general allergy symptoms (for example, tiredness, problems sleeping) can also occur. With such a wide range of symptoms, recognizing CMPA can be a challenge. It is particularly difficult when symptoms are similar to the expected behavior of your baby (for example, regurgitation, crying) or when they overlap with other common problems (such as difficulty sleeping, runny nose). It is also important to note that not all symptoms will occur immediately (within 2 hours) after feeding; some may be delayed by up to 2 days or even a week. We understand that the symptoms can be distressing, particularly at this time when you are getting to know your baby. CMPA can be easily managed with the correct diet, so getting an early diagnosis is very important. If you suspect your baby may be allergic to cow’s milk protein, your doctor will guide you through the steps to a final diagnosis.

In the first instance, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. With this website, we want to provide support so you are prepared for the appointment with your doctor, and we hope to answer questions you may have related to the diagnosis and the appropriate management of CMPA (in case of suspected or confirmed diagnosis).

CMPA presents with multiple and diverse symptoms

92% of infants and young children with CMPA have 2 or more symptoms impacting at least 2 organ systems

CMPA appears during infancy

CMPA is often diagnosed before the baby is 6 months old, and most babies outgrow CMPA by the time they are 3 years old

You should keep breastfeeding even if your baby has CMPA

In rare cases, babies who are exclusively breastfed can react to cow’s milk protein transferred to breast milk from the mother’s diet

If your baby shows any of these cow’s milk allergy symptoms, you should visit your doctor

We understand that the symptoms of CMPA can be distressing, particularly at this time when you just are getting to know your baby. If you suspect your baby may be allergic to proteins in cow’s milk, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Rest assured, CMPA can be easily managed by adjusting your baby’s diet as per your doctor’s advice.

It is important that you do not experiment with a cow’s milk-free diet for your baby without recommendation and guidance from your doctor.

The information in this section will help you understand what CMPA is and the most common sign and symptoms you may see in your baby, as well as how it is diagnosed and managed by your doctor.



Prevalence of digestive symptoms

Up to 60% of affected infants have digestive symptoms.



Prevalence of respiratory symptoms

Up to 30% of affected infants have respiratory symptoms.



Prevalence of skin-related symptoms

Up to 70% of affected infants have skin-related symptoms.



Inconsolable crying is very common in infants with CMPA, while anaphylaxis is very rare.

Could it be CMPA?

Answering a few simple questions in the “Symptom checker” can help your doctor determine if your baby may have cow’s milk protein allergy.

Symptom checker

Be prepared for your doctor’s visit

Your doctor will examine your baby and ask about the symptoms your baby is experiencing. If CMPA is suspected, your doctor can perform tests to help make a diagnosis.
Learn more about how CMPA is diagnosed

Symptom Diary

The science behind CMPA

CMPA is a food allergy where the immune system reacts to proteins in cow’s milk. Your baby’s immune system recognizes the cow’s milk protein as a foreign body, just as it would recognize a virus or bacteria (pathogen), and starts to fight against it. This reaction can result in a variety of symptoms, including rash and anaphylactic shock (also known as anaphylaxis). Reactions that occur quickly, usually 2 hours after feeding, generally include vomiting and symptoms more commonly associated with other allergic reactions, such as wheezing or noisy breathing, skin rash (dermatitis), hives (urticaria) and swelling of the eyelids or lips. Other symptoms, such as regurgitation, colic, diarrhea, constipation, runny nose, cough and skin that is dry, scaly, or itchy (eczema) can develop days or even a week later.

The symptoms of CMPA, although distressing, can be easily managed by adjusting your baby’s diet. With advice from your doctor, you will be able to feed and see your baby grow and develop like any child, even with CMPA.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding even when their babies have cow’s milk protein allergy. This usually requires qualified dietary counseling to completely exclude all sources of cow’s milk protein from the mothers’ diet.If a decision to use a special formula intended for infants is taken, it is important to follow the instructions on the label. Unboiled water, unboiled bottles or incorrect dilution can make babies ill. Incorrect storage, handling, preparation and feeding can eventually lead to adverse effects on the health of babies.Formula for special medical purposes intended for infants must be used under medical supervision.

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