29% of mums felt down / depressed1
59% of parents worry their baby is ill1
A new survey1 commissioned by Mead Johnson Nutrition reveals that over half (53%) of 500 parents with a persistently crying[i] baby had their lives turned upside down, and found it difficult to cope. Just a third of parents actually enjoyed the first few months of having a baby, with 59% concerned that their child might be ill, or that their excessive crying could be something more serious (28%). For many parents, their child’s excessive crying had a negative impact on their wellbeing, with 29% of mums feeling down or depressed and half left feeling too tired to function properly during the day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a third of parents revealed that their baby’s unexplained crying had a negative impact on their relationship with their partner.
“Leo was never able to settle down to sleep after a feed,” says Emma Blackford, whose baby persistently cried. “When he slept it was in short bursts and every time he woke up he’d just cry and cry. I felt so guilty and helpless as he was constantly agitated and stressed. It had such a negative impact on our family – I felt exhausted most days and on the verge of tears.”
Is it cow’s milk allergy?
Excessive, frequent and unexplained crying – also known as colic - affects around one in five babies in the UK[ii], and can be one of the symptoms of cow’s milk allergy (CMA). CMA occurs when the immune system identifies a protein within the cow’s milk as harmful, and triggers an allergic reaction. Cow’s milk allergy affects 2 -7.5% of children under 1 year of age[iii] and is the most common type of food allergy in young infants - yet it can be difficult to identify as the symptoms are diverse4. Symptoms can include colic, eczema, vomiting and diarrhoea4. If a baby has been suffering two or more of these symptoms, for several weeks, and particularly after feeding, it may be an indicator of cow’s milk allergy[iv].
A past study has suggested that around 25% of babies with colic have cow’s milk dependent colic[v]. 63% of mums in the persistent crying survey said their baby had colicky abdominal pain and / or symptoms of colic, yet only 9% of parents were concerned that this could be due to an allergy. One in five had no idea what to do when their baby persistently cried, and some mums (38%) felt unsupported by their partner or felt alone and stressed.
Parents can find out more from their doctor, visit www.isitcowsmilkallergy.co.uk or call the Allergy UK helpline on 01322 619898.
Identifying the symptoms
Recognising cow’s milk allergy can be a challenge for both parents and healthcare professionals, as symptoms are often mistaken for other common conditions such as colic and eczema. Exact symptoms will also vary from baby to baby, and can be immediate or delayed4; so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for. That’s why Mead Johnson Nutrition has launched Is It Cow’s Milk Allergy, an awareness campaign created in partnership with Allergy UK, to help concerned parents monitor their baby and recognise the potential signs and symptoms of CMA. The website www.isitcowsmilkallergy.co.uk features information and a range of tools including a CMA fact sheet, symptom diary and detailed questionnaire which parents can complete and then discuss with their GP.
“Not knowing how to help a crying baby can be extremely upsetting, says Lindsey McManus, Deputy CEO, Allergy UK. “Parents will try numerous methods to calm their child, yet in many cases, the crying and distress continue leaving parents feeling helpless, frustrated and exhausted. We are supporting the Is It Cow’s Milk Allergy campaign to help raise awareness of all symptoms of cow’s milk allergy. CMA is the most common allergy in babies, so if you’re concerned, use the support tools available such as the Is It Cow’s Milk Allergy website and the Allergy UK helpline, to discuss your child’s symptoms with your GP.”
[i] Definition of persistent crying: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
[ii] NHS Choices: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
[iv] Vandenplas Y, Koletzko S, Isolauri E et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of cow's milk protein allergy in infants. Arch Dis Child 2007;92:902-8