Serious Infant Allergy Going Undiagnosed
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Serious Infant Allergy Going Undiagnosed PR Newswire LONDON, June 7, 2012 LONDON, June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Urgent call for widespread education of parents, GPs and Health Visitors on the symptoms and diagnosis of cows' milk allergy National charity Allergy UK is urging doctors and parents to educate themselves on the most common food allergy in infants; a condition which, if not correctly diagnosed and treated, can seriously affect health and development, and cause distress to both the child affected, and their carers. This is following a comprehensive new report which shows a widespread lack of awareness and understanding of cows' milk allergy (CMA), its symptoms* and effects, within the medical community and amongst the UK's parents. Of the parents surveyed, whose children have been diagnosed with CMA, nearly one in five visited their GP 10 times or more while, in the average case, parents [1]had to make five trips to their doctor before diagnosis .This could be due to the fact that approximately 70% of GPs and health visitors feel they are not [2]informed on identifying the delayed type* of CMA in children . Whilst it is the most common food allergy in infants and young children, with a [3]prevalence of up to 7% of babies in the UK , too often the connection between symptoms is not made, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

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Serious Infant Allergy Going Undiagnosed
PR Newswire
LONDON, June 7, 2012
LONDON
,
June 7, 2012
/PRNewswire/ --
Urgent call for widespread education of parents, GPs and Health Visitors on the
symptoms and diagnosis of cows' milk allergy
National charity Allergy UK is urging doctors and parents to educate themselves
on the most common food allergy in infants; a condition which, if not correctly
diagnosed and treated, can seriously affect health and development, and cause
distress to both the child affected, and their carers.
This is following a comprehensive new report which shows a widespread lack of
awareness and understanding of cows' milk allergy (CMA), its symptoms* and
effects, within the medical community and amongst the UK's parents.
Of the parents surveyed, whose children have been diagnosed with CMA, nearly
one in five visited their GP 10 times or more while, in the average case, parents
had to make five trips to their doctor before diagnosis
[1]
.This could be due to
the fact that approximately 70% of GPs and health visitors feel they are not
informed on identifying the delayed type* of CMA in children
[2]
.
Whilst it is the most common food allergy in infants and young children, with a
prevalence of up to 7% of babies in the UK
[3]
, too often the connection between
symptoms is not made, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment.
The delay in diagnosis of CMA can create an emotional burden for parents, with
81% answering that they felt powerless while their child was ill
[1]
. Over half
(57%) of parents felt responsible for their child's condition and 58% said they
doubted themselves as a parent
[1]
.
Experts say the problem of diagnosis lies in the symptoms being both diverse
and common - including skin disorders (atopic dermatitis) and respiratory
complaints, which are often first attributed to other conditions by doctors.
Additionally, symptoms may be delayed - occurring hours or even days after
milk is consumed.
The research released today shows that while 75% of parents say they have
heard of CMA, 50% could not identify any symptoms. Three quarters of parents
said their child had experienced one or more of the symptoms of CMA, but an
overwhelming 70% of these parents had never considered it could be
connected to an allergy
[4]
.
GPs themselves, who were also questioned for the report, recognised that
there needs to be more information and training made available to doctors,
with 70% saying they would like more information on CMA
[2]
. 77% of GPs and
health visitors agreed that they would be better placed to give better support to
parents if they had greater confidence and knowledge of the condition
[2]
.
The main message of the report, co-authored by leading paediatric allergy
specialist, trustee and chair of Allergy UK Health Advisory Board, Dr Adam Fox,
and General Practitioner Dr David Mass, is that more awareness is needed
among GPs, health visitors and parents to encourage earlier recognition and
effective management.
"If you're not looking for CMA, you won't find it", says Dr Adam Fox "that is why
it is important for both healthcare professionals and parents to be informed
about the symptoms of cows' milk allergy and consider it earlier."
Jenni Falconer, television presenter, and mum, agreed to lend her support to
the campaign as a direct result of her own lack of awareness. "Prior to this
campaign, I had little knowledge of cows' milk allergy and this is something I
was keen to change, particularly as a new mum who wants to be informed of
anything that could affect my baby girl. It is frustrating when we don't
understand why our baby is upset, after all they can't just tell us what's
wrong! With this allergy, there can be a delay in diagnosis so I urge all parents
to find out about the common symptoms of CMA and to speak to their doctor or
health visitor if they are concerned. Our children's health is of paramount
importance and often their well-being is the impact of us taking action: it is far
better to be safe rather than sorry."
Developed in partnership between Allergy UK and infant nutrition specialists
Danone Baby Nutrition and Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition,
ACT
on CMA is
an awareness campaign to help increase knowledge and understanding of
cows' milk allergy, leading to earlier recognition and effective management.
The initiative also aims to provide parents with useful information and support
through what can be a difficult journey to diagnosis.
ACT stands for:
Awareness
of the symptoms
Connect
the symptoms together
Take action
- could it be CMA?
Parents who are concerned about their child should consult their GP or health
visitor. They can also visit http://www.cowsmilkallergy.co.uk for more support
and information, and to learn how to
ACT
on CMA.
Notes to editors:
*Symptoms of CMA to Look Out For
Symptoms can be immediate or delayed. Immediate reactions occur very
quickly after the infant has consumed cows' milk, so are relatively easy to pick
up. Reactions are common when weaning or if changing from breast feeding to
formula. A red itchy rash around baby's mouth, facial swelling, hives (red itchy
lumps) on the body, streaming nose, sickness and vomiting, may be because
the child is having an immediate allergic reaction. In more severe reactions,
there may be breathing difficulties, and if this is the case an ambulance should
be called immediately.
This is quite rare in infants. Some symptoms come on much more slowly and
are more difficult to spot. These are known as delayed reactions and may
cause chronic symptoms such as eczema, reflux, colic, poor growth or even
constipation.
CMA affects between 2 and 7.5 % of babies
[3]
, although up to 15% may exhibit
symptoms suggesting CMA at some time
[5]
.
When infants and children are fed cows' milk or any parts of it, this can trigger allergic
reactions. By avoiding the 'proteins' in cows' milk completely, the symptoms caused by
this reaction can be eliminated
[6]
. Cows' milk should never be excluded from the diet
without the advice of a healthcare professional as it provides so many important
nutrients.
Allergy UK, Danone Baby Nutrition and Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition provide
information, advice and support to parents who have a child with CMA.
Visit
http://www.cowsmilkallergy.co.uk
or call the Allergy UK helpline at 01322
619898 / visit
http://www.allergyuk.org
Research into CMA Awareness was carried out online
between 17/04/2012 and
24/04/2012
by Opinion Matters, resulting in a sample of 1000 parents of children aged
0-12 months.
Available for interview on request:
Jenni Falconer, Ambassador of ACT on CMA, television presenter and new mother to
daughter Ella Rose
Dr Adam Fox, Consultant & Hon Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Allergy, Evelina
Children's Hospital and Guy's & St Thomas' Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, chair and
trustee of the Allergy UK Health Advisory Board
Lindsey McManus, Deputy Chief Executive, Allergy UK
Case studies available for interview on request
1. Allergy UK survey of CMA awareness among 328 parents of children diagnosed with
CMA. 2012. Data on file.
2. Independent survey panel of CMA awareness among 250 HCPs; 150 GPs and 100 Health
Visitors. 2012. Data on file.
3. Hill DJ, et al. Manifestations of milk allergy in infancy: clinical and immunologic findings. J
Pediatr 1986; 109 (2): 270-6.
4. Independent survey panel of CMA awareness among 1,000 parents of children under one.
2012. Data on file.
5. Høst A. Frequency of cow's milk allergy in childhood. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002;
89(6 Suppl 1):33-7.
6. Cows' Milk Allergy. Cows' Milk Allergy in Children [Online]. Available at:
http://www.cowsmilkallergy.co.uk/cma/what_is_cma/view/cows_milk_allergy_in_children
.
[Accessed:
May 2012
].