CMA is commonly confused with lactose intolerance but they are very different: lactose intolerance does not involve the body's immune system. The two share some signs and symptoms, such as stomach and gut problems (like wind and diarrhoea).
It is important to know the difference between lactose intolerance and CMA, as the two have different causes and also treatments; in addition, CMA usually develops early in life, whereas lactose intolerance is extremely rare before the age of 5 years.
What is CMA?
CMA is a type of milk allergy where a baby's immune system responds to the proteins found in cows’ milk, causing the baby to have allergic symptoms. These can include problems with the skin (rash, hives, dry, scaly or itchy skin), digestive system (diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation and reflux) and respiratory system (noisy breathing, coughing, runny nose). CMA usually occurs before a baby’s first birthday.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system. Instead, it is the inability to digest the lactose sugar found in cows’ milk, and it is very rare in children younger than 5 years of age. Lactose is one of the most important carbohydrates (sugars) in breast milk and provides many benefits to babies, such as helping to promote a healthy gut and calcium absorption.