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Baby Allergy Fears
7:15am 12th June 2012
Pirate FM has learnt paramedics had to be scrambled to save a Cornish toddler whose head swelled up after she drank cows' milk.
Three year old Poppy had a severe allergic reaction when she picked up the wrong cup at pre-school.
Now a report warns many parents and doctors do not know the symptoms.
It claims many have to a make at least five trips to their GP before the condition is diagnosed.
Stithians mum Rachel tells us is was terrifying: "She started sneezing; itching like she was trying to pull her skin off, then her lips started swelling. By this point I'd called the paramedics. Her head swelled up. It was very distressing and she was so distressed. It was frightening. Really, really frightening.
"It's definitely underestimated. It's the understanding of other people, like in restaurants and your school's understanding of it. I mean my daughter can't even have milk on her skin, it comes up in blisters. It's highly underestimated".
National charity Allergy UK says, of the parents surveyed, nearly one in five visited their GP 10 times or more while, in the average case, parents had to make five trips to their doctor before diagnosis. This could be due to the fact that approximately 70% of GPs and health visitors feel they are not informed on identifying CMA in children.
Experts say the problem of diagnosis lies in the symptoms being both diverse and common - including skin disorders (atopic dermatitis), diarrhoea or respiratory complaints which are often first attributed to other conditions by doctors.
Additionally, symptoms may be delayed, occurring hours or even days after milk is consumed.
The charity thinks cows' milk allergy is commonly confused with lactose intolerance. Three quarters of parents surveyed wrongly identified CMA as an allergy to lactose and only one in ten parents could correctly identify it as an allergy to the protein in cows' milk.
The research also shows that while 75% of parents say they have heard of CMA, half could not identify any symptoms. Three quarters said their child had experienced one or more of the symptoms of CMA, but 70% had never considered it could be connected to an allergy.
Although 86% of parents had taken their babies to the GP to discuss the symptoms, in more than 40% of cases the link to a possible allergy was not made.
GPs themselves, who were also questioned for the report, recognised there needs to be more information and training made available to doctors, with 70% saying they would like more information on CMA in the form of treatment/diagnostic guidelines or internet based websites and learning material.
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