Food Allergies and Intolerances- Reflux Aggravator

Food Allergies have been linked to Reflux, and in recent years we have learned that up to half of babies with severe reflux may be suffering from a cow's milk protein allergy. An allergic response to a food can lead to the allergic cells interfering with the movement of the bowel, causing symptoms such as reflux or constipation.

 Food allergies come in 2 forms:

a. Immediate (so called IgE mediated) allergies with typical symptoms of rashes, diarrhoea and vomiting or chest or circulatory signs. These can be easily tested for using skin prick tests or blood tests

b. Delayed type (so called non IgE mediated) allergies typically resulting in gut symptoms hours to days after eating the offending food. These are more difficult to diagnose as the skin and blood tests don't help, and usually require a period of eliminating the food from the baby's diet to look for improvement.


Allergy-related reflux is generally part of the delayed type allergy spectrum so will need to be diagnosed by a trial of cow's milk protein elimination from the baby's diet. This may require eliminating all dairy from the breastfeeding mother, or using a specialised cow's milk free formula milk.

Please consult your healthcare practitioner, ideally a Paediatric Allergy Specialistist, if you suspect allergies may be contributing towards your child's reflux! This may be the case in babies with severe reflux not responding to standard treatment, or babies with other symptoms such as eczema or constipation.


Refer to the Food Allergies and Intolerances section of this website to learn more.


The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.