Cow's milk protein allergy in babies occurs in about 2 to 6% of all babies born. In short, the allergy means that your baby's body sees the protein in cow's milk as an intruder. Your child is going to make antibodies against the protein and this gives allergic reactions. Read here how you cow's milk protein allergy in babies can recognize and do what you can do when your little one has it.
What is cow's milk allergy in babies and how does it occur?
Cow's milk contains a type of protein that can cause a reaction, especially in babies. Normally, the protein from the cow's milk is divided into pieces by the body. These pieces are filtered through the intestinal wall so that only the small pieces end up in the blood. The larger, not yet properly digested pieces remain behind and leave the body through the stool.
In a baby, the intestinal tract is not yet fully developed. The intestinal wall is not yet able to filter properly so that the larger and not completely digested pieces of protein also end up in the blood. Cow's milk protein allergy in babies and children is actually an intolerance. This does not matter for most babies, but for babies with a cow's milk protein allergy. The pieces of protein are seen as an intruder and the body attacks them by producing antibodies. If these antibodies come into contact with the cow's milk protein, an allergic reaction occurs such as eczema, spitting or colic.
Recognize cow's milk allergy in babies
A cow's milk protein allergy in babies can be recognized by the following:
- Skin rash such as hives (most acute reaction causing a lot of itching).
- Eczema (which does not respond to other treatments).
- Edema (this is fluid accumulation under the skin such as a raised face or swollen eyes).
- Stomach ache.
- Nausea and possibly vomiting.
- Colon cramps.
- Diarrhea or clogging.
- Inflammation in esophagus or gastric mucosa.
- Coughing and sneezing.
- Swollen throat.
- Wheezing and breathlessness.
- Nose complaints and eye complaints.
- The baby is very tearful or has to cry a lot.
- Your baby refuses to eat.
- Your baby is restless and shows difficult behavior.
- Growth retardation.
Up to what age cow's milk protein intolerance?
Cow's milk protein intolerance is most common in babies because in babies the gastrointestinal tract is not yet well developed. Most children grow over the allergy, often after their second birthday. Approximately 85% of children with allergies have grown over when they are 5 years old. Since your child can grow over it, it is good to test this from time to time.
Cow milk allergy baby test
There are several methods that are used to determine cow's milk allergy. Think of a blood test, skin test or intestinal examination. These methods are usually only used after an elimination diet and provocation diet. In an elimination diet, certain products are removed from the diet for about 4 to 6 weeks. For example, milk, yogurt or bottle-feeding on cow's milk basis. When the symptoms decrease considerably, there may be cow's milk allergy in babies.
After 4 to 6 weeks your child will follow a provocation diet. This means that some products with cow's milk will be introduced again. When the complaints return when provoking, it can be determined with certainty that there is an allergy.
Is your baby still allergic?
Your child can grow over the allergy. Some do this in 2 years, others in 5 years. To find out if your child can enjoy everything that cow's milk is, you have to test from time to time whether the allergy is gone. Always do this in consultation with your doctor, health clinic or with the dietitian. If this has approved it, you can give your child a little bit of cow's milk. This amounts to a quarter of a cup, no more. Then you pay close attention to any reaction. If you notice a reaction you can try again in half a year.
What is cow's milk in?
You will probably get a list of products containing cow's milk from the doctor or dietitian. Because it is in more products than you initially think. For example:
- Chocolate milk, Yogho Yogho and all other dairy drinks such as Optimel or Vifit.
- Cottage cheese, hops, cottage cheese, cheese spread.
- Bread and especially white bread.
- Ice cream and soft ice cream.
- Whipped cream, crème fraîche, sour cream, slim cream.
- Fruit-based drinks such as Taxi, Rivella and Goedemorgen.
Which diet in cow's milk allergy in babies and children?
You can tackle the cow's milk allergy in babies by switching to hypoallergenic artificial foods (for example from Nutrilon). This is based on highly hydrolyzed whey protein hydrolyzate. This is indicated on the label of the artificial food. But ask the doctor, dietitian or clinic for advice. An even better way is to switch to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and cow's milk allergy
If you are breastfeeding, you could continue with it if the mother avoids all products containing cow's milk. So ask for a list of 'prohibited products. A cow's milk protein allergy in babies is absolutely no reason to stop breastfeeding and to switch to hypoallergenic artificial food. In fact, it is better to (continue to) breast-feed.
In addition to cow's milk allergy, there are a lot of other allergens that a baby can suffer from. But fortunately most babies do not suffer from it. Also read the interesting article about carob bean flour in baby food.