Table of Contents
Have you witnessed your baby vomiting, coughing, or having diarrhea after consuming infant formula? It may be because your baby is allergic to formula. Before we get into the signs and symptoms caused by formula, let’s first read and learn what a formula milk reaction is.
What is Formula Milk Allergy in Infants?
Infant formulas sold in markets contain cow’s milk with the proteins present in it adjusted for infants to digest. Lactose, i.e., milk sugar is added to the formula to equalize the concentration. Lactose is also found in breast milk. There are many other ingredients added to infant formulas such as vegetable oils and essential fats to make them easily digestible. Minerals and vitamins such as calcium, vitamin D, and iron are also added to baby formulas to meet the nutritious benefits for proper growth.
A baby with milk allergies is actually allergic to the proteins present in cow’s milk, i.e., whey and casein. This condition is called Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA).
Effects of Formula Milk Allergies on Babies
A baby with a milk allergy will have the proteins present in milk stick to particular antibodies that are created by the immune system. This can cause mild to severe symptoms as explained below.
Signs & Symptoms of Baby Formula Allergies
The symptoms and signs of formula allergy in babies depend on the severity of the child’s allergy. Here are the formula allergy symptoms you should look out for.
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in behavior
- Cramping in the abdomen
- Decrease in blood pressure
What Should You Do If Your Baby is Allergic to Formula?
If you have found formula allergy symptoms in your baby,
- Contact your pediatrician right away even if the symptoms are mild.
- Your pediatrician will help you find ways to alleviate all the symptoms of baby formula allergies.
- If your little one has difficulty breathing, develops swelling, or is vomiting after consuming infant formula you need to seek urgent medical care.
- Children with severe allergies need to be injected with an epinephrine auto-injector to treat the reaction.
- Do closely read the ingredients listed on the products you buy for the baby and change the formulas if the one you are feeding your child is causing an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of Baby Formula Allergies: Diagnosis and Treatment
Once you visit a doctor with a baby showing signs of formula allergy,
- They will ask you questions about what kind of products you are feeding your child and might want to examine your baby’s poop or blood.
- In extreme cases, you will be referred to an allergist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies). You must tell them your baby’s eating habits and the symptoms exhibited and how long they have been happening.
- An allergist will do an oral food challenge or an allergy skin test to milk. For this, the allergist will make your baby consume the milk and wait to see if a reaction happens. But do not worry as a medical team is always nearby to take care if any severe reactions happen, so you are not putting your baby at any risk.
- The doctor might also use a skin prick test or a blood test to look for immunoglobulin E antibodies. For this test, the doctor places a sample of the culprit milk on the baby’s skin and pricks the area to make the milk go inside the body. If there is an allergic reaction it will be evident within 10 to 20 minutes.
Prevention Of Allergic Reaction To Baby Formula
- If you are using more than one formula brand for your baby, you will not know right away which product will cause an allergic reaction in your baby. Once you find out the culprit product, change the formula immediately.
- However, before you switch, consult your baby’s pediatrician to see if they have something to recommend that will be safe for your baby.
- Research shows that breastfeeding will reduce the risks of a baby being allergic to formula.
- If breastfeeding is not a viable option, you can opt for amino acid formulas, rice hydrolysates, and soy formulas. Remember that infants who are allergic to cow’s milk also tend to be allergic to soy-based formulas.
Amino-Based Formulas As A Substitute To Milk-Based Formula
Amino-based formulas provide all the nutritional needs of an infant to toddlers to older children. These formulas are appropriate for babies allergic to milk-based formulas or are unable to tolerate extensively hydrolyzed formulas. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids and formulas with amino acids do not contain any intact proteins. Thus, they are easily digestible by most kids. These amino-based formulas are called ‘elemental’ formulas.
Extensively Hydrolysed Formulas
The protein casein is the main reason cow’s milk is allergic to most children. Extensively hydrolyzed proteins formulas break casein into pieces making it suitable for children with a milk or formula allergy.
Can babies be allergic to formulas? Yes, since most baby formulas contain cow’s milk. The allergic reaction is towards the proteins like whey and casein that are present in cow’s milk. Caregivers should be vigilant of all the symptoms and signs of a formula allergy and take measures to address it as soon as possible.
You must immediately diagnose the cause of symptoms of baby formula allergies to ensure that the child is on a nourishing diet routine. There are different viable options if a baby is allergic to milk such as rice hydrolysates or amino acid formulas.