Cow’s Milk Allergy May Be Overdiagnosed and Undermining Breastfeeding

October 13, 2020

Guidelines to Manage Allergy Written by Individuals Receiving Funds from Formula Manufacturers

Dairy allergies have long been associated with autism. Now, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that cow’s milk allergy (CMA) may be overdiagnosed in many infants. Using a food challenge protocol, this novel study found that only 1% of infants were actually affected by CMA even though 15% to 20% of new parents report symptoms associated with the condition such as crying, vomiting, and rashes. The study’s authors also revealed that 99% of mothers who consume cow’s milk do not have enough dairy allergen in their breastmilk to affect their baby. Previously, many breastfeeding mothers have been encouraged to exclude dairy in their diet, which can cause dietary challenges and undermine their nursing efforts.  Rather than making changes to their diet, some mothers stop breastfeeding altogether. Interestingly, the study points to a trend of increased sales of specialized infant formulas that claim to manage CMA. The researchers also discovered that guidelines to manage symptoms of CMA in infants are often developed and written by individuals who receive funds from specialized infant formula manufacturers. Being leery of this practice, the authors state in their conclusion, “When industry is closely involved in education, guideline development, and dissemination, we should not be wholly surprised that trends in diagnosis and treatment favor use of their products.”

Original Study

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