One of the biggest questions expectant and new parents face is whether to nourish their child through breast milk or formula. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision is yours. However, you should get as much information as possible concerning the choices available so you can make an informed decision. If you happen to choose to feed your baby formula, then a big concern should be “is your bub allergic to baby formula?”
One of the most common baby allergies are to cow milk and this is a big component of baby formula (specifically the milk found in the formula). Unfortunately, about 50% of infants who are allergic to milk are also allergic to its soy-based counterpart. The good news is that only about 2/3% of all babies are allergic to milk and in many of these cases, your little bub will grow out of the allergy by the age of 2 or 3.
An allergy is an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to a foreign body (and in this case, the protein found in milk). This means that your baby’s immune system will attack the proteins within milk, ‘seeing’ it as a foreign item that needs to be destroyed and this causes the allergic reaction. Basically, your bub won’t be able to process the proteins within the formula either, so along with an allergic reaction, your baby might be deprived of nutrients. Depending on how allergic your baby is will determine the severity of the reaction.
Heredity also plays a part in baby formula allergies, if a baby’s mum or dad was allergic to formula (or milk) as a child there is a 50-80% chance that their child will inherit those same allergies. Infants who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing a milk allergy than those who are formula fed. But researchers don’t fully understand why some develop a milk allergy and others don’t.
Doctor Dr. John Moissidis, an Allergist & Immunologist gives us six signs that your bub might be suffering from a baby formula allergy, these signs include:
If you think that your little one has some of the above symptoms and you are worried that he/she has an allergy, then its best to call your doctor. He will generally ask for a family medical history, as this kind of thing is often inherited. Your doctor will then probably take blood and stool samples. A skin test may also be carried out to confirm any diagnosis.
Your doctor may also ask that you cut formula out of your baby’s diet for a week, then introduce it again and see if there are any negative effects. It’s important to know for certain if your child has a milk protein allergy because if he/she does, you’ll have to be very careful about making sure that all milk and milk products are removed from his/her diet.
There are a couple things you can do if your bub can’t tolerate regular formula. The first option is to go for a soy-based baby formula. Unfortunately as mentioned earlier, 50% of baby’s who are allergic to the proteins within milk are also allergic to soy so this may not be the best option. However, there are two kinds of formulas that may be safe for your child:
Once you change your bub to another formula, the symptoms of the allergy should go away in about a month. Your doctor will probably recommend that you continue with a hypoallergenic formula up until the baby’s first birthday, then gradually introducing cow’s milk into his/ her diet.