Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance
Let’s start off by stating the obvious: I’m no doctor. Bring up all your feeding concerns with your pediatrician and follow his guidance. Having said that, this post should shed some light on a topic that’s not talked about enough: Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance, or CMPI for short.
What is Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance?
Well, to start, it’s not lactose intolerance.
Babies can’t be lactose intolerant – lactose intolerance is something that happens later in life. Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to break down the sugar lactose, found in milk and dairy products. It starts in childhood or the teenage years, not infancy. Also, breastmilk (which is the best possible food for your baby) is chock full of lactose, which your baby can digest perfectly.
So babies can’t be lactose intolerant.
Babies can, however, suffer from a milk protein intolerance. A milk protein intolerance is when your baby’s immune system thinks that the cow milk proteins in his body are a danger, and attacks them.
So to sum it up: lactose intolerance is a digestion issue, milk protein intolerance is an immune system issue.
By the way, you’re not off the hook just because you’re breastfeeding. A nursing mom who eats dairy will pass large protein molecules from cow’s milk into her breastmilk, and into her baby’s body.
What Happens to My Baby When He Has Cow Milk?
If your baby has a CMPI, his stomach will produce extra acids to try and break down the proteins that he is struggling with. This often leads to acid reflux. Alternatively, his intestines may try to break down the proteins further along his digestive tract, causing bad cramping and gas.
Symptoms of Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance
|Diaper Symptoms||Eating Symptoms||Other Symptoms|
|bloody stools||refusing to eat||hives|
|severe diaper rash|
It’s important to note that symptoms for CMPI don’t always show up right away – it can take 48 hours for the symptoms to appear.
What Should I Do if My Baby Has CMPI?
If your baby has a milk protein allergy, you have two options:
- If you’re breastfeeding, you can eliminate all dairy from your diet
- If you formula feed, you can switch over to a formula that’s created for babies with food allergies, like Alimentum or Neocate. Some babies do well on a goat’s milk formula, which is more closely related to breastmilk on a molecular level than cow’s milk is.
Don’t underestimate what a difference you can make by eliminating dairy from your diet. It can change your baby’s life, and yours too. Be patient, though – it takes 2-3 weeks to start seeing a difference because your body takes time to clean out all the last traces of the milk protein.
You’l have to go through some trial and error to see what works for you, becuase every baby with CMPI has different levels of sensitivity towards cow’s milk. Some babies will be ok if you drop only “obvious” dairy from your diet: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, pizza. Other babies are more sensitive and will react to anything with the slightest trace of dairy. If that’s your baby, you’ll want to read the labels of all the processed food you eat. Look for ingredients like
- Whey/ whey powder/concentrate/protein
- casein/ sodium caseinate
- lactose/ lactulose
- milk fat/protein/powder
If you’re worried about getting enough calcium after eliminating dairy, don’t. There are loads of food that are bursting with calcium and are better for you than dairy.
- Broccoli, collard greens, kale, bok choy
- Sesame seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Canned sardines
Most babies with a milk protein allergy outgrow it by a year of age, so just because your baby can’t process dairy now doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever.
If your baby is suffering, take his health and well being into your own hands: you’re his only advocate! Don’t sit back and do nothing. Read labels, speak with your pediatrician, and try other feeding options. Don’t rest until you have a happy, health fed baby and a relaxed mama.