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Formula Options for Infants with Food Allergies
What to Feed Your Allergic InfantBreast milk provides optimal nutrition for an infant. Even babies with food allergies can benefit from breast milk with maternal dietary restrictions, also known as "elimination diets." If breastfeeding isn't an option, what formula should you introduce to your allergic baby? Below is a list of different types of formula available to you.
If your infant displays symptoms of an allergy or intolerance, discuss which formula is best for your individual situation with your child's physician.
(e.g. Similac® Advance® or Enfamil® Lipil®)
These formulas offer complete nutrition, but contain intact cow's milk protein that your allergic infant may not tolerate. Symptoms of infant food intolerance can vary, but may include colic, reflux or more severe spitting up. Symptoms of infant food allergy may include bloody, mucousy stools; eczema; rash; hives; or anaphylaxis in severe cases.
(e.g. Isomil®, Prosobee® or Nestlé Good Start Soy®)
Soy formulas are no less allergenic than cow's milk-based formulas. Eight to 14 percent of infants with cow's milk allergy will react to soy. In infants who react in the form of proctocolitis or enterocolitis, 25 to 60 percent will react to soy formulas. For this reason, soy formulas are not recommended in the treatment of cow's milk allergy.
(e.g. Carnation Good Start®)
These formulas take a cow's milk protein, such as whey, and break it into large pieces. Unfortunately, most cow's milk-allergic babies will react to these large pieces of protein. Therefore, these formulas are not indicated for use in cow's milk-allergic infants. Partially-hydrolyzed formulas may, however, be useful in the prevention of atopic dermatitis in high-risk infants who do not already have cow's milk allergy.
(e.g. Alimentum® or Nutramigen®)
Extensively-hydrolyzed formulas are considered hypoallergenic and offer complete nutrition for infants who have an inability to digest, or who are intolerant/allergic to intact cow's milk protein. These formulas take casein (a cow's milk protein) and break it into pieces so that 90 percent of cow's milk-allergic babies will not recognize the piece of protein as a cow's milk protein. These formulas are also useful in some cases of malabsorption.
Amino Acid-Based Formulas
(e.g. Neocate® or EleCare®)
These formulas, also known as “elemental” formulas, offer complete nutrition for infants who have extreme protein hypersensitivity and are unable to tolerate extensively-hydrolyzed formulas.
Parent Support for Breastfeeding or Formula-feedingKids With Food Allergies provides online support forums for parents to receive peer support for breastfeeding or formula feeding food allergic infants and children. Register today to join our thriving community and access a world of support!
Breastfeeding with Food Allergies Forum
Support for mothers on allergy elimination diets for food allergies and intolerances; share tips for elimination diets, total elimination diets, supplementation, "what's to eat?", and more! Find support related to nursing a food allergic infant or child.
Formula and Special Medical Foods Forum
A place for parents to discuss hypoallergenic formulas and elemental (amino-acid based) medical food formulas such as Neocate® or EleCare®. Topics range from weaning to insurance coverage for elemental formulas.
Approved by KFA's Medical Advisory Team September 2009. Updated October 2009. Links updated May 2013