Cow's milk allergy resources
A recent survey carried out by Allergy UK looked at the experience of having a child with a cow's milk allergy (CMA) from the point of view of both the parents (300 of them) and their GPs (400 of them).
The headline findings were not encouraging:
Despite the fact that cow's milk allergy normally starts to show symptoms at around six weeks, on average it took 17 weeks and eight visits to a healthcare professional to get a diagnosis. Hardly surprisingly, 68% of the parents surveyed did not think that their healthcare professionals had much of an understanding of CMA.
In terms of cost to the NHS, the eight visits to a healthcare professional and the 31% who went to A&E are, obviously, a significant and quite unnecessary expense. In terms of emotional cost to the families, 21% of mothers reported that they did not feel they could bond properly with their babies while 44% felt depressed as a result of their baby's poor tolerance of cow's milk and as a result consulted healthcare professional about their mood – another expense to the NHS.
The failure to diagnose CMA also reflected on wider family relationships with 51% of parents saying they could not enjoy time out together as a family and 39% saying that they argued more frequently.
Not only were most GPs woefully ignorant about CMA but they could not agree as to who should deal with it, 41% saying that responsibility should lie with primary care while 53% said that they would rather refer on to secondary care (hospital or specialist).
This survey came about as a result of a partnership between Allergy UK and Mead Johnson who have funded an informational website for parents – IsItCowsMilkAllergy.co.uk – which gives a good deal of information about the condition and how to access health healthcare.
Meanwhile, for health professionals in primary care the MAP guidelines offer an excellent resource with a good deal of information and step buy step guidance on both diagnosis and care.
In terms of general reading you might also want to read:
A brief report of a presentation on cow's milk sensitivity (allergy and intolerance) by Dr Trevor Brown, Consultant Paediatric Allergist at the Ulster Hospital, at a recent Anaphylaxis Campaign conference.
A Q & A with Dr Janice Joneja on What is the threshold dose of cow's milk that will provoke a reaction?
Or any of the other articles in the Cow's milk allergy section.
First published January 2015