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Cow’s Milk Allergy

Allergy child kiss parents laughing

Lorena and Maria’s story

“When Lorena was born, I chose to breastfeed her. But she cried so much. She was always awake and irritable. We were extremely worried that something serious was going on. After months of sleepless nights and countless visits to the doctor, she was diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy. Although we were relieved it wasn’t anything more serious, it was also a very emotional time. I gave up breastfeeding and switched to specialized formula.”

After about 5 days I knew that I had made the right decision. I called the doctor and said, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, she’s actually sleeping at night’. The doctor said ‘yes, that’s normal for a child her age’. We were so happy.”

“After months of sleepless nights, she was finally sleeping. We were so surprised that we actually called the doctor to ask if something was wrong!”

Maria, Lorena’s mum - Brazil

Allergy is on the rise

The global prevalence of allergy is steadily rising, with around 30-40% of the world’s population now affected by one or more allergic conditions1,2. Cow’s milk allergy (CMA) is one of the most common childhood allergies, affecting up to 5% of infants and children3. Beyond the clinical symptoms, allergy can have a major impact on the quality of life of patients and their families, as well as being an ongoing economic burden on healthcare services4-7.

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Interesting facts about cow's milk allergy

Cow’s milk allergy is a relatively common food allergy in babies and young childrenand can affect both formula-fed and breast-fed babies. The allergy is an allergic reaction to the protein in cow’s milk10. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about this condition.

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How does cow's milk allergy affect infants

The symptoms of cow’s milk allergy are wide-ranging and non-specific. Many parents can wait months for their baby to be diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy (also known as cow’s milk protein allergy)11. Learn more about signs and symptoms of cow’s milk allergy and what to expect when a doctor is investigating a possible cow’s milk allergy. 

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How are cow's milk allergy and immunity linked?

Our immune system works hard to protect us from infections by attacking the viruses and bacteria that can make us ill. An allergic reaction to food occurs when the body's immune system responds inappropriately to something in a particular food. In the case of cow’s milk allergy (CMA) the immune system overreacts to one or more 'proteins' contained in cow's milk12. CMA is the most common food allergy in early childhood, affecting 2-5% of infants12. Symptoms are broad (e.g. diarrhea, wheezing and eczema) and can be distressing for both the infant and their families.

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The science behind nutritional management of cow's milk allergy

Early life presents an important window of opportunity to positively influence the development of the immune system and gut microbiome. Gut health is strongly linked to allergy development later in life. Inspired by breastmilk research our approach to managing food allergies goes beyond allergen avoidance and looks towards supporting gut and immune fitness through medical nutrition. Hear from real patients and healthcare professionals about managing food allergies.

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Digestive health

The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract, commonly known as the gut, and other digestive organs. A healthy adult gut is home to 100 trillion bacteria - a unique community known as the microbiota. This microbiota plays an important role in gut function and is vital for our health.

The importance of gut health starts early in life. As the digestive system of a newborn matures it develops an ability to produce enzymes to digest food and antibodies for protection. A healthy gut and microbiota development is crucial for overall growth and development, may reduce digestive discomfort and, in turn, contribute to the wellbeing of infants and parents. Nutrition plays a major role in supporting the development of a healthy digestive system.

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Our Cow's Milk Allergy products

The Nutricia products shown from this point onwards are intended for the nutritional management of diseases and related medical conditions and therefore should be used under medical supervision.

Immune-gut interplay

70% of our immune cells are located in the gut [12], making it our largest immune organ. Find out how our gut microbiota in early life can affect our chances of developing an allergy.

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From avoidance to active dietary management

Avoiding allergens has long been the established way of managing food allergy. Emerging evidence suggests that a more active, nutritional approach may be more effective.

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Our dedicated Allergy website

Our dedicated allergy site (healthcare professionals only) provides more information on allergy in relation to the gut and immune system, the role of nutrition and scientific publications.