Hyderabad: Three out of 100 infants in India suffer from cow’s milk allergy, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. As there is no biochemical or skin prick test to detect cow’s milk allergy, it is only through diagnosis it can be determined.
Paediatricians, nutritionists and paediatric gynaecologists state that many clinical and research studies have been undertaken to identify the problem among toddlers from 0 to 3 years of age. Out of the 25 different proteins in cow’s milk, it was four proteins which cause the allergy in children.
The allergy leads to damage to the intestinal mucosa which results in intolerance of protein. At the clinical level, mothers are not aware of this condition and it is often misdiagnosed as infective diarrhoea.
Dr Prashant Bachina, pediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist, said, “Several episodes of vomiting and bloody diarrhoea get misdiagnosed as infective one. Young infants are put on antibiotics and if there is no improvement they are referred to higher centres or a gastroenterologist. The diagnosis is purely on the history of the child whose feed cycles and the milk consumed by the mother are accounted for. Often mothers are asked to consume more milk so that they get better breast feed. In other cases, when the mother’s milk is not sufficient and there are supplements made out of cow’s milk used to feed the baby. Often these children are not able to digest the proteins and they require other supplements where the proteins are in basic form to help them digest and grow.”
The government has now allowed extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid formula milk in the Indian market. Infants who are allergic to cow’s milk are recommended these advanced formula supplements so that recurrent diarrhoea stops.
Before the availability of these supplements, soya formula milk was prescribed but 1 per cent of the children reacted to these supplements too.
Dr Nandan Joshi, a scientist and a nutritionist explained, “Identifying cow’s milk allergy is a tough task for young mothers. The 3 per cent of children who suffer from this allergy have a tough time and their growth is affected. The intolerance is reduced only when they are off milk and often these children are weaned away within eight to nine months and brought completely on complimentary foods.”...