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Some babies have allergies to proteins that are found in cow’s milk. This is known as Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). 

CMPA is the most common food allergy in infancy affecting 2-7.5% of infants. It can present during the first few months of life, often within days or weeks after introduction of a cow’s milk-based formula into the diet, or with exclusive breastfeeding if cow’s milk protein from maternal diet is excreted in breast milk. 

Symptoms of CMPA

Symptoms can occur immediately after ingestion or can take up to 48 hours to develop. Many systems of the body can be affected such as the skin or gastrointestinal tract in CMPA. Symptoms can include: vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, poor growth, colic and rashes.

What’s the difference between CMPA versus lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance results from a reduced ability to digest lactose, a sugar. It causes symptoms only affecting the bowel such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatus, and diarrhea. It will not cause rectal bleeding that can be seen in CMPA. Children with suspected lactose intolerance do not usually require any testing and should improve within 48 hours on a low lactose diet. 

CMPA involves the immune system. In CMPA, a baby’s immune system responds to the proteins found in cow’s milk, causing the baby to have allergic symptoms

Management of CMPA

If you suspect your baby has CMPA, you should consult a physician. To manage CMPA, you need to remove cow milk protein from your baby’s diet. For breastfeeding moms, mom’s must exclude all dairy products from their diet. For formula fed infants, they need a special formula made with broken down proteins (extensively hydrolyzed formula) does not cause a reaction in most infants, such as Nutramigen A+ with LGG.