There is often a lot of confusion between Lactose Intolerance and Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI); many people often think they are the same thing. To confuse things even more an allergy or intolerance to a food protein can cause a secondary lactose intolerance and they may be present together!

So what is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the sugar found in all mammalian milks and is produced in the breast; the amount of lactose does not vary with the mother’s consumption. To break down and digest lactose we need an enzyme called lactase. Lactose intolerance occurs when a person does not produce this enzyme (or not enough of it) and is a lifelong condition which is commonly seen in school age children and young adults. The symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies include liquid, sometimes green, frothy stools and an irritable baby who may pass wind often.

What is CMPI?

Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance is an immune response to the proteins in cow’s milk, it creates irritation and inflammation in the baby’s intestinal tract. Up to 50% of babies who suffer from this also react to soy protein in a similar way. Most children (80%) grow out of it by the age of 4 years. Symptoms of allergy/intolerance may include blood in the stools, mucous in the stools, cramping, irritable behaviour, diarrhoea, eczema, wheezing, congestion, restless sleep, nappy rashes and reflux!

Download printable version Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance VS Lactose Intolerance

For more information on intolerance and allergy in children you can also view a presentation at our 2013 conference by Prof Pete Smith, Paediatric Immunologist on Cows milk protein intolerance and allergy – introductory clip. By full version here.

References and further information

Reflux Reality by Glenda Blanch (available for loan from the RISA library)
Colic Solved by Bryan Vartabedian (available for loan from the RISA library)
Allergy Train
The Parenting and Child Network
Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
Choice Australia
Australian Breastfeeding Association

Article by Lauren Calvert from reference above.