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Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) in Babies: What is it, What are the symptoms, and What to do?

baby with cmpa

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) is a common condition in babies that affects the immune system, causing adverse reactions to the consumption of cow’s milk and its derivatives.

In this article, we will explain what CMPA is, its symptoms, possible causes, diagnosis, treatment, and alternatives to cow’s milk.

What is CMPA?

CMPA stands for “Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy,” a condition in which the baby’s immune system reacts excessively to the proteins present in cow’s milk. This reaction can lead to the development of adverse symptoms, which vary in severity and often occur more frequently during the child’s first year of life.

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Symptoms of CMPA in Babies

The symptoms of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy in babies can vary in severity and presentation. The most common symptoms of CMPA in babies include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Colic
  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Irritability
  • Coughing
  • Chest wheezing
  • Hives or welts
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Itching or tingling and swelling around the mouth

Possible Causes of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy

Although the exact causes of CMPA are not fully understood, studies suggest that genetic factors, immaturity of the immune system, and early exposure to cow’s milk proteins may play an important role. 

CMPA is considered a multifactorial disease, influenced by genetic and environmental factors.

What is the difference between CMPA and lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest lactose, a sugar present in milk and other dairy products.


On the other hand, CMPA is an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein. Although the symptoms can be similar, the conditions are different. Lactose intolerance is a very common condition, while CMPA is less frequent.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of CMPA in babies is made through a comprehensive medical evaluation, analysis of symptoms, and, in some cases, specific tests. It is important to consult a specialized healthcare provider, such as a pediatric allergist, to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

In the treatment of CMPA, the key point is to completely eliminate cow’s milk and its derivatives from the baby’s diet. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, it is recommended that you stop consuming cow’s milk and its derivatives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in more severe cases, formulas based on amino acids or hydrolyzed proteins are recommended. As part of the treatment, it is important to have the supervision of a specialized nutritionist to ensure that your child receives all the necessary nutrients during the exclusion of cow’s milk.

Alternatives to Cow’s Milk for Babies with CMPA

There are safe alternatives to cow’s milk for babies diagnosed with CMPA. Formulas based on amino acids or hydrolyzed proteins are recommended options, as they do not contain the cow’s milk proteins that trigger the allergic reaction. Additionally, under medical supervision, other options such as soy, rice, oat, and almond-based formulas can be used.

Cow’s milk protein allergy is a condition in babies that can cause uncomfortable symptoms and affect various systems in the body. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of CMPA and seek proper diagnosis with a doctor to initiate the correct treatment.

With the exclusion of cow’s milk from the diet and the guidance of healthcare professionals, it is possible to manage CMPA and ensure the healthy growth of the baby.

Always remember to consult a specialized physician for personalized guidance and to clarify any doubts regarding CMPA (Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy) and your baby. And to learn more about how to ensure a healthy diet for your baby, don’t hesitate to download the Kinedu app and participate in classes led by experts on infant nutrition!

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