Cow’s milk protein allergy and breastfeeding
Cow’s milk protein allergies under the spotlight
In a baby allergic to cow’s milk proteins, drinking milk causes an immunological reaction. This can lead to a very wide variety of symptoms, which can occur immediately after ingestion of the proteins or up to a week a later:
- Skin signs such as redness, itching or swelling occur in 50% of CMPA babies.
- Gastrointestinal signs such as regurgitation, vomiting and colic occur in 25 to 50% of CMPA babies.
- Respiratory signs (wheezing, asthma, etc.), which are rarer, can also occur.
What should you do if your baby shows signs of these allergies?
A cow’s milk protein allergy can sometimes develop when mum decides to stop breastfeeding and starts giving baby her first bottles. At this point, the ideal approach is to prolong breastfeeding, without an avoidance diet since this was not necessary during the first months.
However, if the diagnosis is made while mum is breastfeeding, her doctor will advise her to have a diet that avoids cow’s milk proteins and to adapt what she eats. That’s because breast milk contains small amounts of foreign proteins that babies may react to.
How do you adapt your avoidance diet?
A cow’s milk avoidance diet excludes cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk, as well as any products made using these: dairy products, cheese, butter, cream, etc.
Clearly highlighted information on the labels of such products warns you of the potential presence of milk proteins: milk proteins, casein, caseinates, lactose, whey protein, whey, lactalbumin, serum albumin.
While breastfeeding, if the avoidance diet is effective and the baby’s symptoms improve, the doctor will suggest gradually reintroducing dairy products to the mother’s diet. It all depends on how the baby reacts.
During the reintroduction period, it can be useful for mums to note down any dairy products they eat and when the baby reacts to help guide the doctor.