Parents of babies with undiagnosed cow’s milk allergy (CMA) are left confused, frustrated, tired and worried, whilst they try to find the cause for their babies constant crying and discomfort according to a new survey.
CMA is the most common allergy that develops in babies. Yet in a new survey, 52 percent of mums whose child has CMA had never heard of the condition until their baby had been diagnosed. Alarmingly, when asked where they went for advice, only 29 percent said they visited their GP, indicating that a huge number of parents are unsure what they should do.
Due to lack of knowledge about the condition, almost half of parents surveyed with babies that suffer with CMA (47%) are turning to the internet for help and advice. There are currently a large number of parents diagnosing their baby’s’ condition from the internet, without any backup or support.
The new survey was carried out online with 2,026 mothers as part of a new campaign Is it Cow’s Milk Allergy? The campaign is designed to provide parents with online resources with a dedicated website (www.isitcowsmilkallergy.co.uk) which helps them to assess whether symptoms displayed could be CMA and to collect the right information for an informed and productive discussion with their GP.
It is not always easy to spot the symptoms of CMA in infants, as it can be easily mistaken for other common conditions such as colic and baby eczema. The most common symptoms of CMA in babies revealed by parents are colicky abdominal pain, eczema, vomiting and diarrhoea. The survey revealed that once parents do see their GP, many have seven or more appointments before a diagnosis is made. This campaign is designed to help parents discuss symptoms with their GP and receive a quicker diagnosis. As part of this initiative GPs will receive support materials on CMA.
Lindsey McManus, Deputy CEO, Allergy UK said, “This campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of cow’s milk allergy and provide parents with access to information from trusted online resources. The survey findings highlight the vital importance of providing correct information and advice to empower parents to persist with their GP in order to gain accurate diagnosis. Parents are not alone, and support is out there from organisations like Allergy UK in what can seem like a difficult journey.”
The lack of awareness of the condition indicates a need for greater education during pregnancy and after birth. To help parents deal with the symptoms of CMA, Allergy UK recommends seeing your GP as soon as you feel your child has any symptoms and reiterates that parents need to be persistent.
Parents are advised to prepare by answering the following questions and take them to their GP:
- Does your baby show any of the following: Colic/excessive crying, arching back,pulling up legs or screaming when lying flat?
- Does your baby show any of the following: Difficulties swallowing, choking episodes, difficulties feeding, bringing up small amounts of milk often, and vomiting large amounts?
- How often does your baby poo?
- Does your baby show any of the following: Loose, frequent or explosive poo, very smelly poo, poo contains blood, hard poo or slimy poo containing mucus?
- Does your baby show any of the following: red skin. dry skin, bumpy rash or itchiness?
- Does your baby show any of the follow more than is normal: coughing, wheezing, blocked nose or runny nose/sneezing?
- Do these symptoms get worse at certain times of the day/after feeds?
- Did these symptoms coincide with any changed in feeding habits like starting formula or solid foods for the first time?
- How has your baby been fed since birth?
- Does anyone in your family have any of the following: Asthma, Eczema, Hay fever, confirmed food allergies, suspected food ‘intolerances’ or avoid any specific foods?
To help parents prepare for a GP appointment, they can download the full questionnaire from www.isitcowsmilkallergy.co.uk – which has been designed to be taken along to the appointment to help mums explain the symptoms their child has been experiencing – so they can help provide as much information as possible, rule out any conditions it can be confused with and arrive at the correct diagnosis as soon as possible.
It is hoped having a greater knowledge of the condition and symptoms will empower parents to hold a more informed discussion with their GP, leading to a quicker diagnosis, provision of correct information and support to manage their baby’s allergy.