The UK Department of Health is planning to authorize the use of goat’s milk protein in the manufacture of infant formula and follow-on formula. The current rules recommend only cow’s milk in formula feeds for the youngest children. According to the Draft Instrument – Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 2014 released by the Department of Health, an EU directive was published in 2013 which requires the member states to implement the relevant changes to national law regarding the protein requirements for infant formula and follow-on formula by 28th February, 2014. The consultation period for this regulation ended on 6 December 2013. The premier health authority in UK has taken this step based on advice from European Food Safety experts. A study conducted by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2012 found that protein from goat milk is a suitable source of protein for infant and follow-on formula.
In the U.S., a young mother was investigated last August by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for feeding her young baby a goat milk based formula. She was unable to breastfeed him and he had problems with every store-bought cow’s milk based formula. Alorah Gellerson found that goat’s milk worked for him where all other formulas failed.
The most frequent allergy seen in the first years of life is allergy to cow’s milk. With the implementation of the new regulation, most parents may expect goat’s milk to be a suitable substitute for infants allergic to cow’s milk. However, experts warn that goat’s milk-based formula is not suitable for infants being allergic to cow’s milk. Several experts raised concerns about the use of goat’s milk as alternative as they believe that there is no convincing evidence that the allergic reactions to goats’ milk are lower than those to the cow’s milk-based formula. Since the proteins in cow and goat milk are similar, an infant allergic to one type of milk would almost certainly be allergic to the other.
According to Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services at Allergy UK (a British medical charity dedicated to help humans having allergies and food intolerance), goat’s milk-based formula should not be used for babies with cows’ milk protein allergy. She adds that goats’ milk is perfectly safe and nutritious for babies that have no cows’ milk protein allergy.
Manufacturers will be prohibited from marketing goat’s milk-based formula as suitable for infants allergic to a cow’s milk-based formula.
Allergic Reactions to Milk in Infants
Milk allergy symptoms may appear from a few minutes to a few hours after your baby consumes the milk, though the most severe symptoms normally occur within half an hour. The common symptoms include rashes, gastrointestinal/stomach upset and vomiting and/or diarrhea. If the milk allergy affects the respiratory system of babies, they may also have chronic nasal stuffiness, cough, a runny nose, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing. Due to the contact with milk, hives, swelling, eczema, itching or a rash may occur around the mouth and on the chin. Take your baby to the doctor’s office or emergency immediately if you see the following severe allergic reactions to milk:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Extremely pale or weak
- Generalized hives
- Swelling in the head and neck region
- Turns blue
- Bloody diarrhea
Medical Coding – Diagnosis Codes for Milk Allergy
- 995.67: Anaphylactic reaction due to milk products
- T78.07: Anaphylactic reaction due to milk and dairy products
- T78.07XA: Anaphylactic reaction due to milk and dairy products, initial encounter
- T78.07XD: Anaphylactic reaction due to milk and dairy products, subsequent encounter
- T78.07XS: Anaphylactic reaction due to milk and dairy products, sequela
Treatment for Milk Allergy
Pediatricians use several medications to treat milk allergy which include antihistamines and anti-asthma medication (if there is wheezing). Antihistamines are widely used for the treatment of various allergic diseases which can be taken in oral, nasal spray, eye drop or injected form. However, oral antihistamines are usually recommended for toddlers.
Allergies and allergic asthma have been on the rise among children. To ensure proper and timely reimbursement, family practitioners and pediatricians can rely on professional medical billing services.