Cow’s milk allergy mainly affects infants and young children. It appears as the first allergic disease, usually between two to six months of a child’s life. It is one of the most common types of children’s food allergies in developed countries, it affects up to 6-8% of children and requires the long-term elimination of cow’s milk and all related products from the diet.
The impact of allergic diseases on family quality of life and the effectiveness of milk substitute products and new research was recently discussed by specialists in pediatrics, allergology, gastroenterology and dietetics during the Sixth International Scientific Meeting Allergy Day, 2022.
Milk allergy symptoms can be different, and it’s not always obvious that they are combined Milk and nutrition. The disease often causes skin lesions or diseases such as colic and anxiety in the child.
The knowledge of the causes and development of allergic diseases is still limited. Parental experience shows that the road from diagnosis to successful treatment is littered with bumps. Close cooperation between professionals and parents is needed The environment that is closest to a sick child is often a major challenge.
Milk allergy is the first stage of the disease which can lead to further illnesses including asthma. Therefore, parental awareness is key to recognizing it and limiting its effects.
A diagnosis that changes the life of the whole family
Being diagnosed in an infant is often frightening and can upset the whole family’s sense of security. However, diagnosing milk allergy at an early stage, appropriately chosen treatment and an elimination diet can reduce the risk of developing asthma and other health problems. This is the best and most effective way to avoid dangerous symptoms affecting the proper development of children. In practice, the diagnosis of allergy means the need to adapt the lifestyle and rhythm of life of all family members to the new situation. It is the comfort and safety of the little allergy sufferer that determines the choice of vacation destination, accommodation, way of spending time, and even nursery or kindergarten. It is very important to involve all family members, especially grandmothers and grandfathers, who often use stereotyped ideas about feeding the child and adapting to the new situation with difficulty, not being able to entertain their little one with milk candy or chocolate.
“Cow’s milk protein allergy, which was diagnosed in my child, was severe. It was mainly related to the introduction of my son’s diet and strict control of products by other family members. As a result, the whole family had to change their eating habits and get rid of even trace amounts of protein Cow’s milk from the daily menu, because contact with it caused the son to immediately react, requiring adrenaline and hospital stay. ”– Dr. says. Joanna Rachtan Janica, Dietitian and Scientist at the Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, mother of a 7-year-old boy who reacts to cow’s milk proteins with anaphylaxis. “For me, the elimination diet was easier to introduce due to the knowledge about nutrition and food products, but often other parents and their families lack this background, and they have to learn a lot and face the awareness that allergies can develop further and lead to asthma.” – Dr. Rachtan Janika confirms.
A recurring and difficult problem or a fast-paced adventure without milk?
In Poland, almost every infant has symptoms indicating a milk allergy, which requires the doctor to introduce a milk substitute. Experts believe that factors such as bacterial disorders in the intestines of the child, delivery by caesarean section (40% in Poland, one of the highest rates in Europe), excessive hygiene, as well as environmental pollution may be directly related to the prevalence of allergies in our country. An infant with milk allergy symptoms requires a complex and challenging diagnosis process.
It is very important to replace the milk in the infant’s diet with an appropriate prescription preparation, prescribed by the doctor. These criteria are met only by specialized milk substitutes, which are partially compensated. Increasingly popular alternatives In the form of plant-based drinks, they will not provide the toddler with enough nutritional value, as they are not intended for allergy sufferers, and goat’s milk or soy causes allergies.
During the day of the allergy, the specialists emphasized what the doctor should follow when choosing the right preparation. Its effectiveness is confirmed by clinical trials, and from the point of view of child nutrition – the content of ARA and DHA fatty acids and a higher content of calcium. Available preparations also contain probiotics, the effect of which must also be confirmed by clinical tests, since not all probiotics solve the problem of milk allergy.
Treatment of a child with allergies is a very individual one. Sometimes a diet with preparation is enough for a year, sometimes it takes several years. The diet requires parents to constantly contact the doctor and constantly evaluate the effects. Currently, experts note that the process of normalization, that is, the acquisition of tolerance to cow’s milk, is longer, and the symptoms of severe allergic reactions are more frequent. Allergy Day 2022 experts unanimously admitted that television visitors in this case are unsuccessful and only direct contact with the doctor has the opportunity to see the child and check the alarming symptoms reported by the parents. That is why it is so important to continue treatment, regularity and compliance with the recommendations of specialists – the attending physician, allergist, dermatologist.
Educating the whole community as a priority
“A large proportion of parents are still confused and do not know how to help their children. Not everyone trusts the doctors, sometimes it is also difficult to explain the complexity of the disease to patients during the first visit, so the main source of quick daily information for many parents is social media books and the world of blogs. These are very important support groups, but the key in developing an allergy control strategy is to consult with a wide range of professionals at times.” – Explains Katarzyna Jankovska, who runs the blog “Mama Allergika Gotuje,” an allergy mom who is now a teenager. She has transformed her experience in cooking and nutrition for allergy sufferers into knowledge and publications for parents just entering this path.
According to Allergy Day 2022 experts, parent education should primarily be carried out by a team of professionals – a doctor, a dietitian, and even a psychologist. In children whose symptoms are life-threatening (so-called anaphylactic shock after contact with a food allergen) or when the skin symptoms are so severe that the child cannot sleep and the family is functioning normally, the family’s quality of life declines and help may be needed. Unfortunately, health care systems in many countries are unable to guarantee such a comprehensive approach.
Undiagnosed or inadequately treated allergies pose the risk of developing further allergic diseases, the so-called allergic march, that is, sensitivity to other foods, pollens or mites, skin changes and, finally, asthma. Allergy Day 2022 experts cited studies showing that a child with a milk allergy has a 4 times higher risk of developing asthma*. Lack of adequate parental knowledge and support from professionals leads to strong emotions, such as fear, reluctance, and mistrust that treatment will be successful, leading to neglect and often loneliness from caregivers. Ensuring a better understanding and management of this disease is broad education for all social groups, from doctors and parents to school-aged and pre-school children and adolescents. An important group are also teachers who must have knowledge about allergies, and their impact on the well-being and health of students, who often feel discriminated against and rejected. Sometimes a food allergy, especially a baby milk allergy, isn’t taken seriously. Experts agree that only through a joint effort can we halt the allergic process and develop a comprehensive approach to combat the growing scale of this problem. Knowing this, the Reckitt and Mead Johnson Institute of Child Nutrition have been conducting educational activities and supporting research in this field for several decades in order to step-by-step reduce the risk of developing an allergic process.
We encourage all parents who suspect a possible allergy in their young child to complete the allergy symptoms questionnaire https://czytoalergia.pl/ This will help to better highlight the problem and help during the first visit to the pediatrician.
* Bernie Kanani R et al. Clin Immunol. 2017; 139 (6): 1906-1913 AH 4.
About the Mead Johnson Institute of Pediatric Nutrition
The Mead Johnson Pediatric Nutrition Institute (MJPNI) advances pediatric research and improves children’s nutrition. Composed of a global research network, the MJPNI team uses the latest technology, a highly specialized team and collaboration between specialists to benefit pediatric patients around the world, combining a passion for innovation and offering high quality products. Since June 2017, MJPNI has been part of Reckitt, a global health, nutrition and hygiene company. Our commitment to science and innovation is critical to our product portfolio and mission – it is at the heart of Reckitt’s health business.
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