Do not confuse CMP (cow’s milk protein) allergy with lactose intolerance. There is a often a lot of confusion between the two, but they are NOT the same and need to be treated very differently!
What is the CMP allergy?
CMP involves the immune system, it is generally more severe than lactose intolerance. The protein in the cow’s milk creates a irritation and inflammation in the baby’s gut. Some children grow out of the allergy at the age of four. The most common symptoms include;
- Blood and mucous in stools
- Irritable behaviour
CMP allergy is diagnosed once symptoms are seen after consuming milk or milk containing foods. Some babies might experience redness, rash or hives when consuming foods. To determine if your baby has the allergy, a skin prick test or blood test (RAST) will be positive. This should be discussed with your doctor, and eliminating or challenging your child’s diet with milk is not recommended before seeking medical opinions.
Unfortunately most commercial formula’s contain cows milk, therefore choosing a soy formula or seeking medical advice from your Doctor/Dietitian can recommend specialised formula’s to help with digestion. Lactose free formula’s can still contain milk products, so avoid these formula’s!
If you are breast feeding, I would seek medical assistance to discuss avoiding cow’s milk protein for your diet.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose is a sugar found in mammalian milks (this includes mothers milk and any animal milk). An intolerance is when a baby cannot break down and digest lactose, because the body does not produce the enzyme lactase which is needed for the digestion. This is a life long condition. Symptoms include;
- Liquid, frothy and green stools
- irritable baby
- Gaseous/windy baby
The symptoms of lactose intolerance is very similar to CMP allergy, therefore diagnosis can be tricky. To confirm the intolerance, a hydrogen breath test can be performed or elimination diet (removing all foods to determine if symptoms improve). I would recommend seeking advice from Doctor/Dietitian before eliminating foods from your child’s diet because lactose is found in a large group of foods and you do not want your child to become deficient in essential nutrients.
Unfortunately most commercial formula’s contain lactose and breast milk also contains lactose, therefore choosing a lactose free formula will help with symptoms. Breast milk has high nutritional value, therefore, I would recommend alternating your bub’s breastfeeds with a lactose free formula and persisting with breastfeeding.