'Babies are being wrongly diagnosed with milk allergy because of the influence of the baby formula industry, doctors claim.
An investigation by the British Medical Journal has revealed prescriptions for specialist formula in Britain have soared six-fold in a decade.
Experts say 'overdiagnosis' of cows' milk protein allergy is the only explanation for the rise, warning that the number of babies who suffer from allergies could not possibly have risen so fast.
They claim the baby formula industry has a huge influence on the way the issue is dealt with in the NHS.
Industry-funded bodies also run allergy training for doctors and nurses - creating further potential for incorrect prescribing.
Doctors warned that wrongly diagnosing babies with a milk allergy is harmful, as it discourages mums from breastfeeding.
Dr Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the BMJ, said: 'The growth in prevalence of cows' milk protein allergy [CMPA] has all the hallmarks of overdiagnosis fuelled by commercial interests.
'We need tighter diagnostic criteria and guidelines drawn up by experts who are free from financial conflicts of interest.'
Between 2006 and 2016, prescriptions of specialist formula milks used to treat milk allergy increased from 105,000 to more than 600,000 a year.
NHS spending on these products increased even more - from £8.1million to over £60million annually.
Nigel Rollins, of the World Health Organisation's department of maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health said: 'It's reasonable to question whether these increases reflect a true increase in prevalence.''
Read more: Babies are being WRONGLY diagnosed with milk allergies because of the influence of the baby formula industry, investigation claims
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22 April 2019
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