Cow's milk protein allergy in babies and children: symptoms and treatments

What are the symptoms of CMPA?


Symptoms can be immediate or delayed and appear after a baby or child is exposed to cow's milk. The symptoms can be varied and affect several parts of the body.

Immediate reactions occur very quickly after the infant has consumed cow's milk, so are relatively easy to pick up. They are common when weaning or if changing from breast feeding to formula.

Things to look for:

  • An itchy rash around the baby or child's mouth
  • Hives
  • Sickness and diarrhoea
  • If the child develops breathing difficulties, goes floppy or has swelling of the tongue or lips you must call an ambulance immediately (this is quite rare in infants and children).

Delayed reactions are more likely to cause chronic symptoms such as eczema and rashes, reflux, colic, poor growth, diarrhoea or even constipation. The baby may also be reluctant to feed, or be described as "fussy".

If you think your baby is reacting to cow's milk, make an appointment as soon as you can to see your GP who will be able to assess whether your baby's symptoms may be caused by an allergy to cows' milk protein or if there may be another cause. Often keeping a food diary can be very helpful.

Read on to find out the difference between CMPA and lactose intolerance.