If you are unsure if your baby has a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) it can be hard to tell. Not every baby shows all the classic signs and without tests available to every baby to definitively say yes or no it can be a long, worrying journey to find out the answer.
Sometimes it’s really hard to know what is wrong with your baby. Your baby is crying. Is it hungry? Dirty nappy? Bored or lonely? Tired? There are so many things to check when a baby cries. But when Beau’s crying turned into a louder, more urgent cry we had a feeling it wasn’t anything off the normal baby check list. Thus began our long and (very) bumpy milk journey! I wanted to share some of the things we learnt during diagnosing Beau’s allergy to help babies, like Beau, who maybe don’t show every classic symptom and so aren’t easily diagnosed.
Beau’s Signs and Symptoms
Beau didn’t have all the classic symptoms of CMPA, which is why it wasn’t diagnosed immediately. Here is what she did have –
- Inconsolable crying
- Not wanting to finish her feeds after her ‘burp breaks’ or crying during feeds
- Noticeably worsened GERD with back arching, crying after burping or spitting up
- Trouble sleeping
- Constipation/painful trouble filling nappy
- Visibly uncomfortable, squirming after feeds and her right leg would always kick out (almost looked as if she was trying to kick away pain)
- Quite bad colic symptoms
Beau was happily putting on weight at a steady pace and this is the main thing that caught medicals off guard as most babies with CMPA do not gain weight easily. Some babies steadily lose weight! She also did not have any type of rash. You can read about the more ‘classic’ symptoms of CMPA here. As Beau’s symptoms were not immediate or severe she was classed as having an non-IgE-mediated food allergy (catchy name!). This meant that the only way we were told to diagnose her was with an ‘elimination test’. More about that later on…
- SMA GOLD ONE – Basic formula available off the shelf. Started on at birth. Gave constipation. Was told by midwife this is quite common for this milk as is quite thick for newborns.
- APTAMIL ONE – Basic formula available off the shelf. Changed due to constipation as is thinner consistency.
- APTAMIL COMFORT – Dietary formula made to ease constipation and excess gassiness. Available off the shelf. Changed due to constipated still.
- APTAMIL PEPTI ONE – Dietary formula made without CMP. Available to buy from chemist or by prescription. Changed after suspected CMPA was discussed.
- SMA ALFAMINO – Dietary formula made for Severe CMPA. Available by prescription. Changed by paediatrician as Beau was having quite painful excess gassiness still.
Beau is now back on the PEPTI ONE after majorly not agreeing with the Alfamino and is now a very happy baby! Even her excess gas seems to have mostly dissipated. (All of Beau’s milks were changed on advice from a medical professional of some kind. Do not change formulas unless advised). We have since done the ‘elimination test’ with Beau. After six weeks on PEPTI ONE, we switched Beau to regular formula. After two days it was very clear she does have an allergy.
Things I Have Learnt
- Not every NHS/medical professional says the same thing. It can be difficult to know which way to go when different people tell you different information (especially if they are from different NHS Trusts). Follow your gut or someone you know personally and trust the opinion of.
- You know your baby better than anyone else! I wish I had said no to changing her milk to the Severe CMPA formula. It was another two weeks worth of pain for her that she didn’t need to go through just for the sake of eradicating some extra gassiness. If you feel something isn’t right for your baby, speak up! I really wish I did.
- If you think something out of the ordinary is wrong with your baby go and get it looked at ASAP. Ignore people telling you not to fuss or that babies cry anyway and don’t worry that you think you might be wasting someone’s time. The only person your baby has to speak up for them is you so if you think something isn’t right, then go. If something is wrong then the quicker you catch it, the easier it is to fix. With the girl’s GERD and CMPA, I’m told they can cause damage to the linings of the stomach and throat. The quicker you diagnose and treat them then the faster they can heal and be in less pain.
- The only thing that got me through the nights of Beau screaming was thinking that when she is older she won’t remember how much pain she was in. Although you may be in tears too (on a few occasions I certainly was!) and you will no doubt be able to recall the nights you spent pacing and rocking and sshhing, she won’t.
- Get your baby weighed regularly. A lot of medical issues cause babies weight gain to slow down or stop altogether. It’s also a brilliant way to put your mind at ease that your baby is growing well!
I hope that at some point during these lists you might have gathered some helpful info on suspected CMPA/formulas that might be suggested to you. Not every baby shows every sign so I just wanted to share our experience and that it does not mean that your baby doesn’t have it. If you have any questions, tips or you have a different view then let’s discuss! Please leave a comment down below or pop me a message via the Contact Us page. Please also pop a message if you’d like to hear more of Beau’s story to clear up any doubts or questions you may have!