The treatment of cows’ milk allergy involves eliminating all cows’ milk protein from the diet1. However, all children require protein for growth and development. Therefore, when cows’ milk protein is removed, it is important to include a dietary substitute that provides the same nutrition. For breastfed infants, treatment may involve removing cow’s milk protein from the mother’s diet.
Formulas that provide a dietary substitute can include partially digested or ‘broken down’ cows’ milk protein, known as extensively hydrolysed protein. Alternatively amino acid-based formulas can be used. These contain only the basic building blocks of protein and are completely cows’ milk protein free.
Amino acid-based formulas and extensively hydrolysed protein formulas are regarded as hypoallergenic. They provide a well-balanced diet for infants and children with cows’ milk allergy and other allergy induced disorders. They ensure that your child gets all the nutrients required for healthy growth and development. It is important to note that extensively hydrolysed formulas still contain very small cows’ milk protein fragments. Amino acid-based formulas are 100% free of cows’ milk protein.
Cows’ milk allergy and breastfeeding
It has been known for some time that the foods a mother consumes can affect the make-up of her breast milk2. Research has shown that small amounts of cows’ milk protein from the mother’s diet can be passed onto the infant via breastmilk3. For some sensitive infants this small amount of cows’ milk protein may cause an adverse reaction.
Breastfeeding mothers of infants with cows’ milk allergy may need to remove cows’ milk protein from their diet1. It is important to discuss the need for this with the child’s medical specialist before making dietary changes. If avoidance of cows’ milk protein is required, the mother must strictly avoid all milk and milk containing foods. Cows’ milk may be found in small parts in many processed or packaged foods. It is therefore essential to read the ingredient lists on all food packaging. The breastfeeding mother also needs nutritional advice to replace the nutrients that are lost when milk and dairy products are removed from the diet.
In some instances this diet does not resolve the child’s symptoms. Some mothers may also find the extremely strict nature of this diet quiet challenging. In these cases, your healthcare professional might suggest a hypoallergenic or low allergy diet with substitute options for your child. Cows’ milk substitute options could take the form of either an amino acid-based formula or extensively hydrolysed protein formula. To best understand your options, it is important to consult your healthcare professional.
Amino acid-based formulas are 100% free of cows’ milk protein. They provide a well-balanced diet for infants and children with cows’ milk allergy and other allergy induced disorders. They ensure that your child gets all the nutrients required for healthy growth and development.
- ASCIA, 2016, Cow’s milk (dairy) allergy Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, viewed 6 May 2016, http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/cows-milk-dairy-allergy
- Anderson (2014) Breastfeeding and food sensitivities [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/breastfeeding-and-food-sensitivities-0 [Accessed 11 May 2016]
- Kilshaw PJ, Cant AJ 1984, The passage of maternal dietary proteins into human breast milk. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 75(1):8–15.