Doctors are misdiagnosing cow’s milk allergy symptoms in babies and sometimes recommending inappropriate milk substitutes, according to a recent European survey.
What’s more, local medical experts are saying that these results mimic the South African situation.
Cow’s milk allergy causes vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing and skin rashes, and is one of the most common food allergies in babies. The condition, which is a reaction to protein in cow’s milk, is a potentially serious health problem.
The research study
The recent “Act Against Allergy” survey found that up to 78% of the 500 British doctors surveyed were confusing milk allergy symptoms with other conditions such as gastroenteritis and colic.
The survey reveals that up to four in five doctors could be failing to make a correct diagnosis. When they do get the diagnosis right, more than half the doctors may be recommending soy-based milk as an alternative.
However, the routine use of soy-based infant formulas isn’t recommended due to the high content of phyto-oestrogens – compounds that mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen and which could pose a risk to the long-term reproductive health of infants.
To complicate matters even further, infant formulas fed to babies commonly contain cow’s milk and milk derivatives such as whey.
Babies risk malnutrition
Misdiagnosing milk allergy puts babies at risk of being malnourished. Unchecked, the condition can stunt infant growth and cause developmental problems.
The survey was sponsored by SHS International, the manufacturer of Neocate specialised infant formulas.
- (Oz Healthcare Communications, September 2007)
A-Z of Lactose Intolerance