Majority of doctors 'missing milk allergy in babies'

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milk bottle The majority of family doctors are missing cows' milk allergy in babies despite it causing serious health problems, claims a new survey.

Four in five GPs are failing to make a correct diagnosis and even when they do spot it, more than half are wrongly recommending soy-based milk instead - which can pose a risk to long-term health.

The survey of doctors found most don't trust their own colleagues to make the correct diagnosis of cows' milk allergy - the most common allergic condition.

It found many doctors are confusing the symptoms with other conditions such as gastroenteritis and colic.

But this can lead to unnecessary sickness and suffering for babies, claim experts.

An estimated 10,000 babies in the UK have been diagnosed with cows’ milk protein allergy.

But it is feared up to 50,000 babies are being missed, even though they have symptoms such as skin rashes, wheezing, vomiting and diarrhoea which are not being investigated.

The survey of 500 doctors published today by medical taskforce Act Against Allergy found 78 per cent thought their colleagues could not properly diagnose the problem.

Even when it was picked up, six out of 10 doctors or nurses are recommending the wrong treatment.

The Department of Health warns against routine use of soy-based infant formulas because of the high content of phytoestrogens - compounds that mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen.

It is feared this could pose a risk to the long-term reproductive health of infants, and some babies are allergic to both kinds of milk.

Mother Jane Bell, 34, who lives in London with police officer husband Michael, says it took months to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

She said 'Within 24 hours of being born my daughter Lilly was reacting to formula milk.

'But the GP refused to investigate and she was diagnosed with a 'tummy bug' 12 times before she collapsed at the age of nine months.

'I took her to casualty at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, where they were brilliant and recognised straight away that she was suffering from an allergy.

'She was red all over, she was in a bad way' said Mrs Bell, who runs a children's day nursery. The baby needed IV drips and rehydration therapy before she was tried on soy-based milk, which didn't help.

Mrs Bell said 'It was only when she was given an amino acid-based formula that didn't contain any cows' milk or soy protein that she started to recover.

'But unfortunately the prolonged period before Lilly was diagnosed has left her with anaphylactic allergies.

'She has to take suppressant medication all the time and be very careful about what she eats' she added.

Dr Martin Brueton, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and UK spokesperson for Act Against Allergy, said nine out of 10 doctors want more help to spot affected babies.

He said Act Against Allergy will issue guidelines next year to help doctors diagnose and correctly treat babies who are suffering from the problem.

Any parent who suspects their child has a milk allergy should see their GP, who may refer them to a paediatric allergy specialist, he said.

He said 'As a profession we are not consistent in how we approach and manage milk allergy - many doctors are confused about the condition.

'Although cows' milk allergy often improves or resolves over time, it causes small babies and their families a great deal of distress.

'Hence the need for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.'

source -  Daily Mail UK