Food allergy is a growing problem worldwide
Food allergy is one of the rapidly growing allergic diseases globally, with prevalence estimates in American children (≤5 years) of around 6%.1 In Australia, the Melbourne-based HealthNuts study in more than 2,800 infants has shown increased prevalence, with around 10% of infants shown to have a challenge-proven food allergy to a common allergenic food at one-year of age. In the HealthNuts study, cows’ milk protein allergy was not challenge-proven, but it was estimated at 2.7%.2
In Australia, the estimated incidence of cows’ milk protein allergy in infants is 2.7%.2
Cows’ milk protein is often the first food protein to which formula fed infants are exposed and, in allergic individuals, can induce severe and/or potentially life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis).3
Infants with cows’ milk anaphylaxis
For infants up to 24 months old with cows’ milk anaphylaxis, an amino acid synthetic formula (eg Nutricia Neocate, Abbott EleCare ®, Nestlé Alfamino®) is required. Treatment must be in consultation with a specialist allergist or clinical immunologist, or a specialist paediatric gastroenterologist. Consultation may be by telephone.
Further information is available at NPS MedicineWise.
Cows’ milk is a common cause of food allergy in infants, although most will outgrow it by the age of 4 years. Cows’ milk allergy rarely persists into adulthood. Confirmation of the diagnosis usually requires a referral to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.1
Lactose intolerance is a syndrome where gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and/or diarrhoea manifest in susceptible individuals following lactose intake.2
A1 beta-casein protein intolerance
A1 beta-casein protein may be involved in stimulating gastrointestinal symptoms of intolerance in some people, compared with cows’ milk A2 beta-casein protein.3,4
Adverse milk reactions diagnostic algorithm
To distinguish between lactose intolerance symptoms and possible A1 beta-casein intolerance symptoms, see the adverse milk reactions diagnostic algorithm.