Cow's Milk Allergy

Signs & Symptoms

What are the symptoms of early childhood cow’s milk allergy?

While CMA symptoms can be scary and cause alarm, once the cow milk is removed from the diet, babies otherwise continue to grow and thrive; they gain weight and continue to reach their developmental milestones. If the baby does not look well, is losing weight, looking pale or lethargic, becoming dehydrated, something else could be going on. The baby might need further assessment by a physician and other investigations.

CMA can present as early as a week old and generally first occur within the first six months of life. However, in most babies it will resolve by one year of age. 

The classic CMA presentation is blood in the poop. It can be associated with increased frequency of poops, looser consistency of poops and/or mucus in the poop. The blood is generally flecks or streaks. The blood is mixed with the poops and is a red colour (rather than maroon or brown). The other common cause of blood in the poop at this age is constipation, with small tears at the anus from hard poop. However, with CMA, the poop is most often soft or looser rather than hard.

Some babies present with symptoms of reflux/regurgitation. This includes spit up and sometimes vomiting. They may also have feeding refusal (or a change in their feeding). In addition, some babies may experience increased gas, pain when pooping (i.e. constipation), and experience abdominal pain (i.e. colic). 

Signs & Symptoms

What are the symptoms of early childhood cow's milk allergy?

While CMA symptoms can be scary and cause alarm, once the cow milk is removed from the diet, babies otherwise continue to grow and thrive; they gain weight and continue to reach their developmental milestones. If the baby does not look well, is losing weight, looking pale or lethargic, becoming dehydrated, something else could be going on. The baby might need further assessment by a physician and other investigations.

CMA can present as early as a week old and generally first occur within the first six months of life. However, in most babies it will resolve by one year of age. 

The classic CMA presentation is blood in the poop. It can be associated with increased frequency of poops, looser consistency of poops and/or mucus in the poop. The blood is generally flecks or streaks. The blood is mixed with the poops and is a red colour (rather than maroon or brown). The other common cause of blood in the poop at this age is constipation, with small tears at the anus from hard poop. However, with CMA, the poop is most often soft or looser rather than hard.

Some babies present with symptoms of reflux/regurgitation. This includes spit up and sometimes vomiting. They may also have feeding refusal (or a change in their feeding). In addition, some babies may experience increased gas, pain when pooping (i.e. constipation), and experience abdominal pain (i.e. colic).