How to manage your child's cow milk allergy

Managing your child's allergy to cow milk can be frustrating. Find out more about cow milk allergy and how you can help your child cope better. Follow this final part of four monthly video series for expert advice on how to manage cow milk allergy in children and answer three simple questions to stand to win attractive prizes!

 

MilkAllergy Your child's milk allergy can be managed effectively

It can be heartbreaking for parents to find out that their child is allergic to cow’s milk -- a staple for so many children. But there are ways to successfully cope with this allergy. If breast milk, which is the best milk for your child, is not a viable option, there are other good alternatives available to ensure that your growing child receives all the necessary nutrition.

In the fourth and last video of the series, Dr. Chiang Wen Chin and Dr. Lee Bee Wah, both consultant paediatricians at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, share what parents need to know in order to effectively manage their child's milk allergy.

This video is supported by an unrestricted education grant from Abbott, the leader in paediatric nutrition*.

What you must know about Cow Milk Allergy (CMA).

1.Reactions to milk allergy may differ

CMA, the second most common food allergy in young children, is an abnormal immune reaction to cow’s milk protein. If your child has CMA, he could fall into either of two types of CMA: Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated CMA and non-Immunoglobulin E (non-lgE) mediated CMA.

In some children, CMA manifests itself quite immediately, sometimes within minutes of ingesting cow’s milk, in the form of cough, redness, itchiness or even becoming breathless and turning blue. Such an immediate reaction is symptomatic of a lgE mediated CMA. In non-lgE mediated CMA, the adverse reaction to cow’s milk may only occur several hours after cow’s milk is consumed, and the symptoms are typically vomiting, diarrhoea or blood in the stool.

2. Learn how to manage your child’s milk allergy

If your child has a milk allergy, it is critical for you to know how to best manage the allergy. Many studies have shown that food allergy, including CMA, is associated with decreased quality of life for not only the child but for the caregivers as well.

Your child’s medical specialist would be the best person to educate you and your child on how to assess the severity of the reaction, and clear any misconceptions you may have about milk allergy. Do not let milk allergy affect your child’s quality of life and day-to-day performance.

3. Find out what are good alternatives to cow’s milk

Naturally, if your baby has CMA, it would be wise to avoid milk that contains cow’s milk protein. If breastfeeding is not a viable option, then what your child needs is specialised formula milk.

A tastier, low-cost substitute if your child suffers from lgE mediated allergy is a soy-based formula, but only if your baby takes well to soy formula. Otherwise, an extensively hydrolysed formula would be a good option. In cases of a severe allergy, an amino acid formula may work better for your child.

goatmilk Goat's milk may not be the best alternative if your child suffers from Cow's milk allergy

4. Goat’s milk may not be a good option

If you believe that feeding your child goat’s milk is a better alternative to feeding him milk with cow’s milk protein, you may be surprised to learn that goat’s milk protein and cow’s milk protein are very closely related. This means that if your child is allergic to cow’s milk, there is a high probability that he may be allergic to goat’s milk too. In fact, up to 80% of children with CMA cannot tolerate goat’s milk.

5. CMA may not be a short-term concern

Although some studies in the past decades have shown that 80% of babies outgrow CMA by the time they reach four or five years old, more recent research indicates that CMA may linger on till much later, with almost 60% to 40% of children still having CMA when they are 8 and 12 years of age respectively.

6. Pay more attention to your child’s food intake and growth

If your child has CMA, you need to take special interest in what your child is eating. For example, you need to take note of when your child consumes formula milk containing cow’s milk, fresh cow’s milk and other dairy products like cheese and yoghurt as well as baked foods containing cow’s milk. Look out for any reactions due to CMA, and assess your child’s tolerance level.

It is also advisable for your child to undergo an individualized nutritional assessment so that your child, who may be on a therapeutic formula (consumed as a form of dietary supplement), needs to see a dietician or paediatrician to ensure that he  is well-nourished. It is also important to make it a practice to plot your child’s height and weight on a growth chart, to ensure that he is growing healthily.

 

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[*] Based on Nielsen Singapore Market Track for the Infant Milk Category, for the 12 month period ending December 2014. (Copyright © 2014, The Nielsen Company.)

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Click here to watch Dr Chu’s answers on questions related to you child's cow milk allergy.

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