New survey reveals need for improvement in cows' milk allergy diagnosis

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The largest online survey of parents of children with Cows’ Milk Allergy (CMA) in the UK, conducted by Allergy UK, confirms that there has been little improvement in the time it takes to get a diagnosis in the last five years. Comparative parent data from 2017 and 2012 shows that despite healthcare professionals (HCPs) demonstrating improved awareness and confidence, there is still work to be done to identify CMA sooner.

Parents report little improvement in the time it takes to get a diagnosis compared to findings conducted five years ago, also by Allergy UK. Fifteen per cent of parents had visited their GP 10 times or more between presenting their child’s problem and diagnosis of CMA, and 43 percent of cases waited between three months and a year. Despite this, there are some positive signs of improvement, with GPs now diagnosing nearly a third of cases (32 percent), more than double the 2012 figure, with the remainder diagnosed in secondary care.

Allergy UK’s Head of Clinical Services, Amena Warner, highlights the success of this survey in gaining valuable insights from parents with children who have been diagnosed with CMA:

The good news is that over the last five years there has been some improvement in the recognition and diagnosis of cows’ milk allergy in primary care. One of Allergy UK’s key priorities is to improve GPs’ knowledge and understanding of this allergic condition which causes such distress for young children and their parents. However, there is still plenty of work to be done towards identifying CMA sooner and we believe that the provision of good information and education resources is key in helping GPs to recognize and diagnose cows’ milk allergy quickly.

Dr. David Mass, a GP with a specialist interest in allergy, similarly reflected that there is still work to be done:

If we want to improve the diagnosis of CMA we have to think about the condition in a more structured way. It can be difficult to diagnose if you aren’t thinking about a connection of symptoms and a link with the introduction of cows’ milk.

New iMAP guidelines (International Milk Allergy in Primary Care) provide GPs with clear and definitive support to help identify and manage this complex and distressing condition. Combining the essential advice within the recent UK NICE guidance, it has been created to facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment pathway for suspected or diagnosed CMA.

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