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Cow's Milk Allergy (CMA) in Infants

Cow's Milk Allergy (CMA) is one of the most common food allergies in infants and young children, affecting 2-3% of infants.1

Cow's Milk Allergy typically develops in a baby's first year, and it occurs when the immune system reacts inappropriately to a protein in cow's milk.2 The protein could be in infant formula, or in breast milk from whatever mum is eating.

The allergic reaction usually causes symptoms like diarrhoea, wheezing and eczema. Cow's milk allergy can be distressing for babies and their families, because it's not always easy to spot. These symptoms are common in infants who aren't well, so it can take time to diagnose.

Babies with Cow's Milk Allergy can have many different symptoms 

Breastfeeding is always best for babies, but some babies with CMA are very sensitive, and they can have allergic reactions when small amounts of cow's milk protein pass from mum to baby in breast milk. In this case, a healthcare professional may recommend to mum to remove dairy from her diet. It is important that this is being done under medical supervision to ensure that mum and baby still get all the nutrition they need.

If removing dairy isn't possible and all other options have been tried, a healthcare professional may prescribe a hypoallergenic formula. There are two main types; one is based on cow's milk, but its proteins are broken down into smaller more digestible parts, which makes them less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. The second type doesn't contain any cow's milk protein, but is made from “free” amino acids (the building blocks of protein) which makes a reaction even less likely.

Healthcare Professionals can prescribe a Nutricia product if a diagnosis of cow's milk allergy is suspected or established.

Cow's Milk Allergy is triggered by the protein in cow's milk

  1. Luyt D et al. Clin Exp Allergy 2014;44(5): 642–672.
  2. NICE. Food allergy in under 19s: assessment and diagnosis. CG116. 2011


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CMA diagnosis and management

This section contains a background to CMA. It provides information on managing CMA by appropriate assessment and diagnosis according to relevant guidelines, and advice on when to use an amino acid-based formula for infants and children with CMA.

Synbiotics and CMA

The latest insights on the role of pre- and synbiotics in the dietary management of Cow's Milk Allergy and infection outcomes.

CMA support services

A comprehensive network of support services for professionals and parents.


The Neocate range are Foods for Special Medical Purposes for the dietary management of Cow's Milk Allergy, Multiple Food Protein Allergies and other conditions requiring an amino acid-based formula, and must be used under supervision after full consideration of all the feeding options, including breastfeeding.

CMA useful links

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