- Run by the paediatric allergy service at Ulster Hospital, part of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT), Northern Ireland.
- Focusing on infants in the community with suspected or confirmed cow’s milk allergy (CMA).
- Aiming to improve care for infants with CMA by decreasing waiting times for support, empowering carers in self-management and fostering peer support networks.
- Will involve developing multidisciplinary community outreach clinics throughout the trust’s catchment area.
Cow’s milk allergy (CMA) presents within the first year of life and affects an estimated 2–6% of the population. Treatment with strict avoidance of cow’s milk is required for babies and breast-feeding mothers, with an appropriate substitute infant formula. Inadequate or delayed treatment increases psychological stresses within the family and can increase the likelihood of persistence of CMA and/or development of further food allergy.
In 2013, a new infant feeding pathway for CMA was launched in Northern Ireland to improve the awareness, diagnosis and management of CMA. This led to increased referrals to the dietetic service and an increase in waiting times.
The allergy team at SEHSCT are aiming to transform the referral pathway for CMA infants in order to provide more timely advice and assessment, and reduce possible secondary problems.
The allergy team (doctor, nurse and dietitian) will provide multidisciplinary community clinics throughout the trust’s catchment area. The clinics will be populated from direct referrals from primary care GP/health visitors.
The clinics will provide presentations explaining CMA, along with dietary advice for babies and breast-feeding mothers; individual allergy assessments; and written information including advice on how to carry out a milk re-challenge to confirm diagnosis, dietary advice on weaning and re-introduction of milk, and signs and symptoms for prompt re-referral.
The project aims to find out whether an early intervention clinic can reduce barriers to high quality care, and ensure the important step of confirming diagnosis of CMA takes place and that these children have the appropriate dietary management.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Bernadette O’Connor, Consultant Paediatrician at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.