CMPA vs Lactose intolerance

How to tell
them apart.

It’s easy to confuse cow’s milk protein allergy with lactose intolerance, but they are very different conditions.

CMPA is triggered by the immune system mistaking cow’s milk protein as something harmful. Lactose intolerance is caused when the body is lacking the enzyme lactase. This makes it harder to digest and absorb lactose, the sugar that is found in mammal’s milk.

While CMPA can begin any time from birth, lactose intolerance is very rare in infants and children younger than 5 years – even those with CMPA. However, it is very common in adulthood. Around 65% of adults globally have lactose intolerance.

Breastmilk naturally contains lots of lactose, which baby’s need for healthy growth and development. It helps to fight putrefactive bacteria and helps in the development of healthy gut microbiota. Because it’s a sugar, it also helps encourage feeding by making the milk taste better.

It is therefore very important that lactose is not eliminated from an infant’s diet at the same time as cow’s milk protein. Specialist infant formulas for babies with CMPA will often include lactose to make sure that children are receiving all these benefits.