Signs and Treatment of Milk allergy in Newborns
Milk allergy in newborns
like any other allergy, is an auto immune reaction of the body to one or many proteins found in milk. From birth to early childhood, it is the most common food allergy among infants.It affects between 2 – 3 % infants in developed countries. But most children cease being resistant to milk proteins by 3 years of age. However, proteins in milk which are normally harmless in most situations could bring about a life threatening situation for the susceptible newborn.
What are the top 10 signs of milk allergy in newborns?
The symptoms are mainly gastrointestinal, respiratory and dermatological. Let us discuss the signs which can preempt an allergy attack from milk in newborns.
Indigestion is the precursor to such an allergy. The baby finds it difficult to digest the milk which causes him to be restless and miserable. Failure on part of the parents to link the indigestion to the milk intolerance could further aggravate the problem.
Colic is an intense spasm or abdominal pain in babies. In case of the infant suffering from milk allergies, this pain can often be attributed to it. Otherwise, more than often, it is hard to find a predefined cause for colic in babies. This condition is characterized by the baby crying himself to exhaustion most of the times.
Extreme bloating, gassiness and flatulence
The baby would be extremely gassy and abdomen would be distended. The baby would be extremely fussy and restless coupled with discomfort from intestinal gas.
Increased vomiting especially after a feed. This is not the normal throwing up of babies following a burping attempt. It is the frequent bouts of vomiting of undigested milk along with swallowing difficulties, that indicate towards it being allergy induced.
Diarrhea or loose watery stools about 8-10 times a day along with traces of blood could also indicate towards this allergy.
Chronic constipation or hardening of stools in newborns is often associated with the baby’s intolerance to milk.
Breathlessness, wheezing, anaphylactic attacks, esophageal spasms, acid reflux and general irritation can also be caused by the auto immune response of the infants to milk.
Dermatological implications of this milk protein caused allergy would be skin rashes, hives and eczemas.
The baby would be malnourished and have growth and developmental challenges. He would miss the weight and height milestones generally achieved by other same age babies. This would be primarily caused by the baby’s inability to eat and assimilate well. Most of the times such babies would be given a suitable milk substitute formula to ensure proper nutrition.
Headache, Migraine and Body ache
Little babies can’t point to their area of discomfort. But very often, allergic reactions could also cause headaches, migraines and body aches in babies. This is further aggravated by dehydration, eating disorders and poor nutrition.
Treatment options of Milk allergy in Newborns
- In breastfeeding infants, the allergen could sometimes be traced to the mom’s diet. Hence, nursing moms are often advised to stay away from dairy.
- For formula fed babies, a variety of milk substitute formulas have been devised. Soy based formula are often used in such cases.However, babies below 6 months of age are not advised to be given soy based formulas.
- In instances, where soy based formulas are also not tolerated well by the infant, non milk derived amino acids based formulas are used. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Individual amino acids are easily broken down by the gentle infant digestive system and help to meet any nutritional deficiencies.
- Partially hydrolyzed or extensively hydrolyzed formulas are also used. Partially hydrolyzed formulas ( PHFs) have longer chain of peptides for the most part. It is however, not suitable for moderate or severe intolerance to milk.
- In case of extensively hydrolyzed formulas (EHFs), the proteins are found to be broken down into amino acids and shorter peptides. Hence, they are easily digested and absorbed by the baby.
- Rice milk or oat milk based formulas too can be given a try.