Cow milk protein allergy or intolerance is quite common among newborns and infants. According to some estimates, 2 to 5% of infants suffer from it. Fortunately, most babies grow out of it. Children over two years have much fewer food intolerance reactions and allergy symptoms related to cow milk proteins.
However, these diseases must not be underestimated, because their symptoms cause suffering to the baby, and unrecognized and improperly treated allergies can contribute to severe complications later in life.
Protein Allergy and Cow Milk Intolerance
Allergy is the immune system reaction to an allergen, such as milk or egg protein. During this reaction, specific antibodies are produced as a defensive reaction of the body.
Food intolerance is associated with the digestive system functioning, most often with a deficiency or lack of enzymes necessary for proper digestion of individual nutrients.
In the case of lactose intolerance, a disaccharide contained in the milk of mammals, a deficiency or immaturity of the enzyme needed to break down lactose into simple sugars is observed. That enzyme is lactase.
A Proper Diet Is a Cure
The basic way of treating allergies is to exclude allergenic products from the diet. But how to do it in the case of allergy to cow milk protein, when milk is the basis of the infant’s diet?
When the baby is fed with the mother’s milk, which itself prevents allergies, the mother should control her diet and eliminate potential allergens. If, however, the baby is formula-fed, switching from hypoallergenic formula to regular may be quite risky.
It is necessary to choose an appropriate product for the baby after consulting a pediatrician. There are several options for allergy-suffering infants.
Baby Formulas for Allergy Sufferers
Baby formula should always be selected together with the pediatrician who takes care of the child. Sometimes it is also necessary to consult an allergist.
The market offers formulas recommended for children depending on age, the degree of allergy risk, or the degree of allergy symptoms development.
Goat milk is a very popular substitute for cow milk. However, research shows that goat milk proteins are similar to cow milk proteins.
Still, many people with cow milk allergy can tolerate goat milk. This is probably because this milk has a different content of casein proteins. Therefore, some babies with cow milk intolerance can consume baby formulas based on goat milk.
Cow milk proteins — lactalbumin, lactoglobulin (these two are classified as whey), and casein — responsible for allergies are subjected to hydrolysis in formulas for allergy sufferers.
It means they are broken down into smaller parts with a weakened sensitizing power. Depending on the level of hydrolysis, proteins are broken down into smaller particles — peptides, or even smaller — elementary amino acids.
You can find the following types of formulas for babies with allergies.
Such products are intended for children from families at risk of allergies. If one of the baby’s closest family members suffers from an allerg, there is a high risk of such a problem in the infant. If a mother, father, or baby’s siblings suffer from allergies, the infant’s parents or caregivers must tell the doctor about it.
Perhaps, even if the baby does not have developed allergy symptoms, the pediatrician will decide to introduce a prophylactic formula with a low degree of hydrolysis (generally available formulas marked with the HA symbol).
Whey Protein Hydrolysates
These are intended for children with allergies. Considered a dietary food for special medical purposes, it should be consumed under medical supervision. Therefore, you can only purchase it if you have the doctor’s prescription. Such products taste quite good and are usually accepted by babies.
Such products are also intended for children with allergies. Usually, they are prescribed for severe symptoms of cow milk protein allergy. They rarely cause allergies. Such mixtures are less tasty than the others, and have a smell that does not resemble the smell of milk, but children suffering from allergies are willing to eat such formulas.
Elementary Amino Acid Formulas
Such products can be prescribed when the allergy persists despite the use of high-grade hydrolysates. They are recommended when there is no improvement after using other preparations or in the case of acute symptoms of severe allergy.
The hydrolysis is brought here to the level of obtaining free amino acids. The mixtures are tasteless and have an unpleasant smell.
These formulas are based on vegetable soy protein. We recommend approaching them with caution and always consulting an allergist or pediatrician before giving soy-based products to your baby.
Such products are generally not recommended for babies under one year. This is due to the possible cross-reaction to soy protein, among other factors. Besides, the increased content of phytoestrogens can disrupt the hormonal balance in a young organism.
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