Cow’s milk allergies in infants and kids might have been over-diagnosed in the past few years, and the current guidelines around cow milk allergies could have had an important role to play in this. A new study found that while about 14 percent of the families believe that their infant has a cow milk allergy, only one percent of the babies could be diagnosed with the allergy.
A switch from breast milk to other sources of milk such as cow’s milk is a natural progression for infants, which will eventually take them towards solid foods. Furthermore, it is also natural for new parents to worry about their infants’ health and rely on widely available information to make sense of what their little one is feeling. However, the presently available guidelines around cow milk allergies, finds the study, might be naming common behaviors by babies as symptoms of cow milk allergy.
Dr. Robert Boyle, Consultant Allergy Specialist and lead author of the research from Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute, explained, “Many infants who are labeled as having milk allergy don’t have the condition. Having a child with a suspected milk allergy can be a stressful time for any family. Misdiagnosing milk allergy could lead to another condition with similar symptoms being missed, or breast-feeding mothers needlessly following restricted diets – or even stopping breastfeeding altogether. It can also lead to families and the NHS unnecessarily paying for expensive specialist formula.”
The study analyzed nine official guidelines released between the years 2012 to 2019, mostly from organizations in European countries. It was found that eight out of ten authors of these guidelines had expressed a conflict of interest with formula manufacturers. Three of these guidelines were also found to be directly supported by formula manufacturers or marketing consultants.
The results of this study have been published in JAMA Pediatrics.