Aim: To determine whether specific infant behavioural characteristics are present in children suspected of cow's milk allergy because of gastrointestinal symptoms.
Methods: We prospectively recruited 57 children (median age 8.7 months) with a suspicion of gastrointestinally manifested cow's milk protein allergy (GI-CMPA). None had detectable cow's milk-specific IgE. Mothers were asked to complete the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) Child Domain, and those with children below 18 months of age (n = 49) also the Infant Temperament Questionnaire (ITQ). GI-CMPA was diagnosed with the double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge. Control group (n = 22) consisted of patients (age range 4-26 months), attending the Pediatric Allergy Unit, who did not have diagnosed or suspected food allergies.
Results: The scores were significantly higher for the PSI (n = 48) Child Domain (p < 0.0001) and for the ITQ (n = 44) subscale Difficultness (p = 0.0045) compared with the control patients without suspected/diagnosed food allergy. The difference between the challenge positive (n = 18) and negative (n = 39) patients remained statistically insignificant. After 6 months, in both groups, the scores (PSI Child Domain p = 0.0004, ITQ Difficultness p = 0.0393) were lower, but the ITQ Difficultness score still remained higher than in the controls (p = 0.0453).
Conclusion: The mothers often perceive infants with unspecific symptoms suggestive of GI-CMPA as demanding and temperamentally difficult.