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The majority of family doctors could be failing to diagnose an allergy to cows milk in babies. A survey of GPs suggests there Is little confidence that the profession Is on top of a potentially serious health problem.
It reveals that up to four in five could be failing to make a correct diagnosis of what, is the most common allergic condition.
Even when they get it right, more than half may be recommending soy-based milk as an alternative, even though this can pose a risk to long-term health.
The study found that most doctors don't trust their own colleagues to make the correct diagnosis. They said symptoms were too often confused with those of gastroenteritis and colic.
An estimated 10,000 babies in the UK have been diagnosed with cows milk protein allergy. But it is feared up to 50,000 may be being missed, even though they have symptoms such as skin rashes, wheezing, vomiting and diarrhoea. The survey of 500 doctors published today by medical taskforce Act Against Allergy found 78 per cent thought their colleagues could not properly diagnose the problem.
They were equally scathing about each other in the choice of alternative in cases where the condition is picked up. The results suggest six out of ten could be recommending soy milk, even though the By Jenny Hope Medical Correspondent - Department of Health warns against routine use of soy-based infant formulas because of the high content of phytoestrogens - compounds that mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen.
It is feared this could pose a risk to the long-term reproductive health of infants.
Jane Bell, 34, who lives In London with her policeman husband, says it took months to get the right diagnosis and treatment for her daughter Lilly "She was diagnosed with a 'tummy bug' 12 times before she collapsed at the age of nine months. I took her to casualty at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, where they recogmsed straight away that she was suffering from an allergy."
"She was red all over, site was in a bad way," said Mrs Bell, who runs a children's day nursery. The baby needed IV drips and rehydration therapy before she was tried on soy-based milk, which did not help. It was only when she was given an amino acid-based formula that didn't contain any cows milk or soy protein that she started to recover, Dr Martin Bructon, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospitai and UK spokesman for Act Against Allergy, said nine out of 10 doctors want more help to spot affected babies.
- Daily Mail -
Lilly Bell was misdiagnosed 12 times with a "Tummy Bug" before a milk allergy was discovered at nine months.
Lilly, now nine, was initially prescribed a soya-based infant formula but her symptoms did not improve. It was only when she has a formula without milk or soya protein that she recovered.
"Hers was the 'tummy bug' that never went away," said her mother, Jane 36, who runs a children's nursery in Battersea, south-west London.
Mrs Bell breast-fed Lilly for the first six weeks before switching to a combination of formula and breast milk becasue Lilly was failing to grow, but she soon fell ill.
"The GP kept saying her symptoms were due to gastroenteritis," she said. "We got into this terrible pattern where on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I would give her formula milk. By Wednesday, Lilly had really bad diarrhoea. The GP would say 'Tummy Bug' and put her on Diarolyte. Lilly would scream her head off becaseu she was hungry. Her symptons would susde and then start again."
Finally Lilly Collapsed and was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in North London where Prof John Walker-Smith and Dr Simon Murch diagnosed a milk allergy.
"They saved my sanity'" said Mrs Bell. " They put Lilly on a specialised formula, although her system took a long time to calm down. The long-term effects are that she now has a severe allergy to soya, dairy, eggs and nuts. She has had her tonsils outs and grommets fitted because of all the mucus in her system, and a bone disease."
Mrs Bell's advice to mothhers suspicious of an allergy? "I would take your baby to a GP and if he or she is not sympathetic, go elsewhere. Don't be put off. A mother's instinct is quite strong."
- Telegraph -