Infant Formula and Food Allergies
Food allergies affect a much larger part of the population than most people realize. Even infants can suffer from food allergies even with their limited menus. Infants who are breastfed and those who are fed infant formula can also suffer from food allergies. It is important to know what to do and how to care for infants with food sensitivities to ensure they are able to get the nutrition they need to thrive.
For breastfed infants, the food allergy can be triggered by proteins from food the mother eats that pass through into the breast milk. For infants who are on a diet of European infant formula (like nanny care goat milk formula), allergies can be triggered by the milk or soy proteins in the mixture. In some cases, the food allergy may not be caused by milk or soy proteins but from another ingredient in the infant formula.
What is a Food Allergy?
Prior to discussing how to feed an infant with food allergies, it is important to understand what that actually means. A food allergy is when the immune system identifies a certain food or ingredient to be harmful. Depending on the severity of the allergy, the body will trigger varying levels of responses. These responses are what is considered an allergic reaction. Allergens in food in any amount can trigger a reaction. In most cases, this reaction will become evident following your infant's consumption of the allergen. There are two main types of food allergies: non-IgE mediated and IgE mediated.
IgE mediated allergies produce a reaction within two hours of the allergen being consumed. Commonly the symptoms will present as hives, rashes, vomiting, or in serious cases, anaphylaxis. This is the most common form of food allergy and presentation. This type of allergy can worsen with repeated exposure and in some cases, the infant will outgrow the allergy. Once your infant has been diagnosed with an IgE-mediated food allergy, their doctor will issue an epinephrine auto-injector to help counteract serious reactions.
Non-IgE mediated allergies have a delayed reaction that may not be seen for several hours post allergen consumption. Commonly the symptoms will present as mucousy stools, bloody stools, extreme vomiting, reflux, colic, and diarrhea. This form of food allergy is less common, but it involves the digestive tract as opposed to the whole body. Some forms of non-IgE mediated food allergies are:
- Allergic proctocolitis
- Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome
These types of allergies can be treated by eliminating the allergens from the infant's diet. It is important to have a doctor evaluate your child to confirm they have a food allergy and are not suffering from another condition. Lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease produce many of the symptoms of food allergies.
Partially Hydrolyzed Infant Formulas VS Extensively Hydrolyzed Infant Formulas
Partially hydrolyzed infant formulas from Europe take the casein and whey from the cow’s milk and break them down into easier to digest particles. Depending on the brand, some may offer partially hydrolyzed casein and whey blend, or a 100% hydrolyzed whey only formula. While this type of infant formula is easier on the stomach and ideal for picky eaters, it is not suitable for those with food allergies.
Extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas from Europe are created to fulfill all of the nutritional needs of an infant with an allergy to cow milk proteins. Generally, the casein is what caused the allergy and extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas break this down into minute pieces. In 90% of milk allergy cases, infants are able to drink this type of formula without any complications.
Formula Options for Infants With Food Allergies
If your infant is exclusively formula-fed, you may be wondering how to move forward if they are showing signs of an allergy. Their specific allergy will determine which European infant formula is best to feed your child going forward.
European infant formulas based on cow’s milk offer a full blend of vitamins and nutrients that support healthy development. However, if your child has developed an intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk, then alternatives need to be considered. There are several high-quality goat milk European infant formulas to choose from. Goat milk (nanny care goat milk formula) is gentler on the stomach and also offers a good range of vitamins and minerals that support healthy development. All infant formula brands from the EU include additional vitamins and minerals such as iron, probiotics, DHA, and more.
For infants who are allergic to both cow milk and goat milk, another option is soy. Just like other types of European infant formula, soy-based formulas are created with proper development in mind. They are devoid of animal proteins and instead are fully plant-based. They are also enriched with vitamins and minerals to ensure your infant gets all the nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong. It is worth mentioning that some infants who have allergic reactions to cow milk may also react to soy milk. Although the percentage is below 14%, it is worth consulting your child’s doctor for alternative recommendations.
Amino Acid-Based European Infant Formulas
Another option for infants who are not able to tolerate extensively hydrolyzed formulas due to their food allergies is amino acid-based infant formula. These types of infant formulas are generally considered specialty formulas and require a prescription. Amino acid-based infant formulas from Europe offer infants and toddlers all of the nutrition they need to develop normally. There are no intact proteins in Amino acid-based infant formulas which makes them easy to digest and tolerable for virtually all infants who suffer from food allergies.
Final Thoughts From Mommy Formula
Managing meals for an infant with food allergies can be confusing, but hopefully, our guide has provided information to help you get started. Always consult with your pediatrician and never create your own infant formula at home. Babies require a special balance of vitamins and minerals during their developing years which are carefully balanced in commercial infant formulas. For more information, feel free to send us an email.