Malagasy Mom shares her experience with her baby’s Cows Milk Protein Allergy (#CMPA)

Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) is becoming more and more frequent lately, especially in newborn babies. Statistics in some Developed Countries estimated that 2% of newborn babies will be born with CMPA. And that 90% of them and more will overcome it by the age of 2 or 3 years old. Our source is an undisclosed Canadian Hospital pamphlet so the numbers may have changed by the time this article is published. 

A Malagasy Mom’s story with her son’s CMPA

Melody, a Malagasy Mom now living in Canada, shared with us her CMPA  experience with her breastfed baby boy Liam. The first thing she said was that she did not know much about this condition at the time. Her baby was diagnosed at three months old. It is not an usual condition in Malagasy babies. Allergies are less frequent in Developing Countries like Madagascar. “It was the first time ever in my life that I heard about milk protein allergy. I am not very familiar with the world of allergies altogether”, she says. “Most people like me are aware of milk lactose intolerance and not the protein intolerance. Lactose intolerance is towards the sugar in milk. But what my son had was rather an intolerance towards milk protein – the casein”. 

How it all started?

Melody and Liam’s CMPA journey started when at seven weeks old, she saw a tiny reddish dot in her son’s soiled diaper. First time parents are like professional poop analyzer, and we are half-kidding (!). That being said, Melody saw two more of those dots in the next soiled diaper.

She naturally mentioned those findings to the Pediatrician during the routine visits the day after. But you probably guessed the feedback: “Wait and see!”. In fact, there were no other symptoms that were alarming. Liam was gaining weight very healthily and he is otherwise happy. So, the Pediatrician advised to review his case again on the next routine visit two weeks later.

The breaking point

About a week after the Pediatrician visit, baby Liam started crying every time he wanted to poop. Melody recalled those moments vividly : “At first he cried before doing it. Later he would start to cry before and continued crying while pooping. It was very hard to watch as a mother. He pooped at least five times a day at that time so you can imagine how painful it was for both of us”. 

One time, after pushing and whining and crying like he wanted to poop again, baby’s diaper had only a big round trace of bright red blood of about 2 centimeters of diameter; and no poop. One can only imagine the panic at the house. The whole family, with the husband, rushed to the local children hospital’s emergency. The ER Doctors performed batteries of tests: parasites testing, different types of bacteria and viruses screenings, and what not. Baby was poked here and there, blood was drawn, and mouth was swabbed. It’s like a newborn screening procedure all over again. 

Still no answer

The tests results would be known only one week and more later depending on the test.  But nothing was found. No Doctor at the Hospital nor the regular Pediatrician made any diagnosis, still. Obviously, something was wrong. But nobody knew what exactly.

Melody was then referred to a Gastroenterologist specialist with whom they got an appointment three weeks later. In the meantime, baby was still crying and fussing when pooping. His stool was still streaked with bright red blood sometimes less and other times a little more. 

The Eureka moment

On the day of the specialist’s appointment, the lady Doctor just needed a glance at the stools’ pictures brought by Melody. She knew right away that this was a CMPA symptom. When she heard about all of Liam’s other symptoms, she was even more sure about her diagnosis. She even had witnessed them all because baby passed a huge “number two” during the examination. 

And now comes the explanation from the specialist.

The WHY

If any of Mom or Dad or their respective parents or siblings have any type of allergy, then baby is at risk of having a CMPA. At what amount of risk? No one can predict for sure … yet. In Melody’s case, hubby has pollen allergy. Grandma is allergic to crab meats. And Aunty has hay fever. Either one of those can help explain baby’s CMPA.

The HOW

The exact causes of CMPA are still hardly determined but specialists are now familiar enough with the symptoms to be able to make a diagnosis.

Using the Gastro specialist’s words: in Liam’s case, the milk proteins’ molecules are too big to be absorbed in the level of the large intestines. But those molecules are still trying to get themselves in despite that. So the baby’s body react and treat those proteins like viruses or enemies trying to attack. It then sent antibodies at the intestines level. Also, the fact that the blood’s color is bright red means that it came not far from the anus, and not further inside like from the stomach or anything else. CMPA can have different types of symptoms but in this case, it attacked the large intestines that causes the stomachaches and the blood tinted stools.

The “CURE”

Melody was advised to ABSOLUTELY continue breastfeeding (Yeah, breast milk is not dairy!). It is a big win for her as a lot of babies with CMPA would be immediately switched to non-allergenic formula – sometimes by lack of knowledge from health specialists or by necessity. Melody had “just” to stop eating anything dairy and soy related food until baby eventually tolerates cow’s milk again. In fact, soy protein has the same structure as cow’s milk protein making it another culprit. Same went for goat or other animal milk. Processed food and eating out are by any means out of the picture. Can you believe that even supposedly plain bread has traces of milk and/or soy in it?

That being said, Mommy’s body still held dairy sourced protein consumed before the dairy and soy free diet. As per the specialists, it will take up to six weeks to get all those “bad” proteins cleaned up and not end up in the breastmilk anymore. Thus, baby was still getting those from Mommy’s breast milk for the five and a half following weeks. He still had the same painful cramps and bloody stool symptoms each time some of those proteins got into his digestive system. That is until a bright day where all of that was thing of the past. Baby would still get some blood spots on his stool from time to time when Mommy accidentally ate something questionable like a meal from a friend or families, etc.

Epilogue

At ten months old, little Liam won his dairy challenge. The whole process was done with the support of a nutritionist. They started the milk challenge in a scheduled manner with cheese, then yogurt and finally whole milk. All the symptoms were gone and all is fine now.

Please do not forget that this article has no medical value nor pretend to give any advice. Its only objective is to share one Mom and baby’s real experience with CMPA with no other intentions.

Click here for more Unpublished article about Madagascar.

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