CMPA // My son’s allergies are not a lifestyle choice
“So, we’ve got a couple of substitutions” the delivery driver said to me.
“Ok, I’m going to have to check the back of the packets before I can accept them.”
*Cue strange look*
“My son is allergic to a few things, so I have to make sure they’re ok”
“But they’re still Free From?”
“Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean he can eat them… Free From doesn’t mean free from everything.”
I swear this is a conversation I have at least once a month. I always receive a look, and the look says: “Why are you making life hard for yourself? Just give the poor boy the food.”
And how I wish I could.
How I wish it was a personal decision.
How I wish it was a lifestyle choice.
But it’s not.
It’s really not.
I mean, I’d be a pretty awful mother if I let my eldest eat cheese and chocolate, but deprived my youngest for any other reason than an allergy. We love cheese in our household too, so it would possibly be tantamount to child abuse in my books.
A lot of people are curious about H’s allergies – so I thought I’d go through a few of the FAQs:
What is CMPA?
CMPA stands for Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. It happens when the immune system identifies a protein within the cow’s milk as harmful (usually Whey or Casein), and triggers an allergic reaction.
It’s one of the most common infant food allergies – affecting between 3-7% of the world’s infant population.
The most common question I get asked is whether CMPA is the same as a Lactose Intolerance. It is not. Being Lactose Intolerant means you are unable to digest ‘milk sugar’ (carbohydrate) found in the milk of all mammals.
Why is he allergic to soya too?
Soya has a similar protein structure to cow’s milk, so around 50% of children who suffer from CMPA also suffer from a soya allergy. Same for goat and sheep milk.
What happens to him when he has milk or soya?
When H-Bear comes into contact with milk or soya he is not well. Symptoms include:
- Painful, gripey tummy – usually bloated and rock hard.
- Extreme, smelly wind
- He is unable to sleep
- Unhappy noises (mostly screaming and crying)
- Diarrhoea, with string-like contents
- And occasionally his reflux returns
And these symptoms can last for days – until the allergen has left his body.
Will he grow out of it?
I hope so. My vision of catching up together over a baked camembert and glass of Malbec in the future is still a possibility. His reactions are definitely getting less severe. To put this in perspective: as a baby, when he came into contact with milk or soya he would be awake and screaming for three days straight, which is not an exaggeration. At almost 20 months old, he will usually suffer for a day, with a lot less screaming.
Can you do anything to help introduce milk/soya back into his diet?
Yes! There’s something called the Milk Ladder (there’s a Soya Ladder too, but we haven’t looked at that yet), which is a way of gradually introducing his digestive system to milk. Sadly we haven’t been successful yet, but we’re due another attempt soon once the winter colds are out of the way.
How can I help?
Be kind. It’s usually been quite a difficult path to get to an allergy diagnosis, so don’t belittle or judge.
Never use the word “allergies” in inverted commas; there is always a reason why that child can’t have a certain food.
Keeping a child away from possible allergens is quite a task too – so I always appreciate a restaurant with a comprehensive allergen guide (big shout out to Zizzi’s and Pizza Express, who are fantastic for this!).
Do you have any more questions? Pop them in comments below!
I hope you’ve found this a useful post. When I first starting writing it in January it was more of a rant, after our delivery driver rolled his eyes at my checking of ingredients, but I hope it’s transformed into something a little bit more informative to try and get rid of the stigma surrounding infant allergies.