WHAT should I do if I think my baby is intolerant to cows' milk?

If you think your baby is allergic or intolerant to cows' milk, talk to your health visitor or GP. If your baby is diagnosed as having a milk allergy, your GP can prescribe alternatives to cows' milk- based infant formulas. If necessary, your GP can refer you to a specialist.

An abnormal reaction to cows' milk can be a sign of:

l Cows' milk allergy (a reaction by the body's immune system).

l Cows' milk protein intolerance (a reaction that doesn't involve the immune system).

l Lactose intolerance (when the body cannot break down and absorb lactose, a natural sugar found in milk).

Symptoms of milk allergy include skin rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and difficulty breathing.

If your baby is diagnosed with cows' milk allergy, your GP can prescribe an appropriate infant formula known as 'extensively hydrolysed formula', in which the proteins in the milk are broken down into smaller parts to make it easier to digest.