Signs and symptoms of cows’ milk protein allergy

There are different mechanisms behind CMA, based on how a baby's immune system reacts to cows’ milk proteins: IgE-mediated (antibody mediated) and non-IgE-mediated (non-antibody mediated).


IgE-mediated symptoms of CMA can occur within minutes of digesting cows’ milk protein, and normally results in a rash (also known as urticaria or hives), swelling of the lips and eyelids, vomiting and wheezing.


Symptoms of non-IgE-mediated CMA usually occur after a couple of hours of digesting cows’ milk protein and often results in gut and skin-related symptoms.


Depending on the observed symptoms and the underlying mechanism, your doctor may decide to perform different diagnostic tests.


Signs and symptoms of CMA

Babies with CMA may experience:

  • Digestive problems (such as diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation and reflux)
  • Skin problems (such as urticaria, hives and eczema)
  • Respiratory symptoms (such as persistent cough and wheezing)
  • Generic symptoms (such as tiredness, problems sleeping or crying)


With such a wide range of symptoms, recognising CMA can be a challenge. It is particularly difficult when symptoms are similar to the expected behaviour of your baby or when they overlap with other common problems.


It is also important to note that not all symptoms will occur immediately (within 2 hours) after feeding; some may be delayed by up to 2 days or even a week.

We understand that the symptoms can be distressing, particularly at this time when you are getting to know your baby. CMA can be easily managed with the correct diet, so getting an early and accurate diagnosis is very important. If you suspect your baby may be allergic to cows’ milk protein, you should always discuss this with your doctor or healthcare professional.



You should visit your doctor if your baby has suspected symptoms related to cows’ milk allergy

It is important that you do not experiment with a cows’ milk-free diet for your baby without recommendation and guidance from your doctor.


The information in this section will help you understand what CMA is and the most common signs and symptoms you may see in your baby, as well as how it is diagnosed and managed by your doctor.

Could it be cows’ milk allergy?

Answering a few simple questions in the “Symptom checker” may help your doctor determine if your baby may have cows' milk allergy.





Symptom checker

How can I prepare for my visit to the doctor?

Your doctor will examine your baby and ask about the symptoms your baby is experiencing.
By completing “My baby's symptom diary” you may help to support your doctor with a more accurate and faster diagnosis.
Learn more about how CMA is diagnosed

Symptom diary

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for babies and provides many benefits to babies and mothers. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Always consult your healthcare professional for advice about feeding your baby. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use infant formula, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Formula for special medical purposes intended for infants must be used under medical supervision.