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David Gray, Senior Specialist Dietitian at Guy’s and St Thomas’…
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Cows’ Milk Allergy (CMA), also known as Cows’ Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) is an adverse reaction to the protein in cows’ milk that involves the immune system. This condition can affect various body systems and symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, eczema, atopic dermatitis and asthma.
Cows’ milk is the most common cause of food allergy. It generally disappears by the age of 3-5 years of age, whereas some other food allergies tend to last for life.
Most babies with cows’ milk allergy develop symptoms within the first few months of life. It is rare for symptoms to begin after the age of 12 months. Most babies have one or more symptoms like eczema, vomiting or wheezing.
Parents should consult a GP if cows’ milk allergy is suspected and ask for a referral to a specialist (e.g. Paediatric Allergy Specialist) if appropriate. To manage the symptoms cows’ milk protein is completely avoided. Cows’ milk based formula is an important food for infants, so cutting it out of the diet may put them at risk of poor growth. A doctor can prescribe a special formula, that is easy to use and palatable and that will help support growth and development.
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