Worried that your baby’s eczema is not getting any better? Do you suspect a cow’s milk protein allergy? We look at key symptoms and how to provide essential nutrients for proper development.
If your baby has a food allergy of some sort, he or she is not alone: in Singapore 1 in 5 babies1 suffer from some sort of allergy, and cow’s milk protein allergy is the second most common in young Asian children after eggs2. So how can you tell if your child has an allergy and what milk formula should you feed them if an allergy is suspected or confirmed?
Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy
Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) is an abnormal response by the body’s immune system in which proteins in cow’s milk are recognised as a foreign body. This can cause the immune system to be ‘sensitised’ so that every time cow’s milk is consumed the immune system remembers this protein and as a result allergic symptoms are displayed3,4.
What are symptoms of a food allergy3,4?
Common symptoms can include dermatological (hives, eczema, rashes, swelling of lips or face), to gastrointestinal (diarrhoea, stomach cramping, vomiting, reflux), to respiratory (runny nose, sneezing, coughing, respiratory distress). It’s often best to treat these as an allergy if that is suspected, as children with food allergies are at an increased risk of malnutrition and development problems later on5-8. Take Danone Nutricia’s one-minute allergy test online to see if your child is at risk.
What is the “Allergic March”?
Allergic march9,10 is the schematic progression of allergic diseases (atopic dermatitis (eczema), food allergy, allergic rhinitis and asthma) that often begin early in a child’s life. Both genetic and environmental factors have separate influences on the susceptibility of each atopic condition. This usually begins within the first few months of life with eczema and usually is associated with food allergy. Once a child has developed eczema or a food allergy in the first years of life, the child is more likely to develop other allergies including allergic rhinitis or asthma later in life and this may affect their quality of life. The plethora of symptoms may result in reduced exercise tolerance, poor sleep and concentration and impaired performance at school.
Allergy management tips
- If your child is at risk of CMPA or is suffering from CMPA, opt for hydrolysed milk formula. Hydrolysed milk formulas have been pre-digested (broken down) into smaller proteins. This process makes the formula less likely to cause allergic reactions as the baby’s immune system is less likely to launch an “attack” on those smaller proteins.
- If your family has a history of food allergies, this increases your bub’s chances of getting an allergy11 too. Take Danone Nutricia’s one-minute allergy test online to see if your child is at risk. To manage your bub’s allergy, you may want to look out for partially hydrolysed milk formula with prebiotics (scGOS/lcFOS), Zinc and Iron as these ingredients support your bub’s natural defences.
- If your baby has a confirmed mild to severe allergy to cow’s milk protein, he or she may require an extensively hydrolysed milk formula or a 100% amino acid based formula. Always consult your paediatrician to find out more.
What to look for in a Hydrolysed formula?
Read the ingredients label for a whey-based formula (which is said to taste better due to its sweet/dairy flavour12.13) and inclusion of prebiotics (scGOS/lcFOs). Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers which serve as food for the good bacteria in the gut. The gut acts as the first line of defence against infections and allergies as it is home to about 100 trillion bacteria14 and 70% body’s immune cells15. These immune cells, with the support of good bacteria help to fight off harmful infections and to increase their tolerance to substances like food proteins.
Also look for a formula that contains lactose as it helps modulate gut microbiota16 as well as helps stimulate the absorption of calcium which is key for bone mineralisation17.
Making sure your baby has the right nutrition is super important and even more so when they have a food allergy. Do consult your paediatrician to find out more today.