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Has anyone discoverd a milk allergy in the first few weeks when formula feeding?

(37 Posts)
scampidoodle Thu 17-Jan-13 11:36:11

I'm nearly 38 weeks pregnant with DC2 and want to formula feed as I had real problems breastfeeding DS (now 2.6) who we discovered has a milk and dairy allergy (it came to light when we started him on solids). I really disliked breastfeeding but couldn't get him onto a bottle, although I realise now that wouldn't have helped because of the allergy...

I've been advised by my GP and Health Visitor that this baby is more likely to have a milk allergy because DS has one and I'm worried how we will know this so early on and what might be done about it. The HV said the doctor would probably prescribe one of the hypoallergenic formulas as they did for DS from 7.5 months when he finally took a bottle, but I know cost is an issue with this. Has anyone fed the soya infant formula in the first few months? And how did you know that your baby had an allergy?

DS's reaction to milk has become steadily stronger and more obvious (and more worrying) but at first it was actually hard to tell and no one really believed me when I said I thought cow's milk was bothering him.
I'm really concerned that either an allergy won't be obvious and I might end up doing this baby some harm/causing them pain or that if it's spotted very early on I will be told to breastfeed or left with no option but to breastfeed, and I really don't want to do that.

Any advice appreciated... Thanks

freefrommum Thu 17-Jan-13 15:24:22

There's actually only a slightly increased chance that your 2nd child will also have a milk allergy but I understand your concerns. The difficulty is, every child is different. Some babies react to even tiny amounts of cow's milk that pass through breastmilk whereas others don't show any real signs until they switch to formula. Even then, the early signs can be quite mild eg mild eczema, reflux, discomfort. It took nearly 9 mths to diagnose my DS's milk allergy as his symptoms weren't very severe (with the exception of his eczema which was horrific). However, his reactions now to milk are far more severe and we have to carry epi-pens wherever we go so allergies due change over time. Soya formula is not recommended for babies under 12mths due to high levels of phyto-oestrogens plus about 50% of babies allergic to cow's milk are also allergic to soya. My advice would be that if you can't/don't want to breastfeed (and that's absolutely fine) then just go ahead with normal formula milk and see how it goes. If your baby develops reflux, excess vomiting, discomfort, eczema or skin rashes then you should discuss this with your HV/GP asap. Hopefully they will prescribe a hypoallergenic formula at that point and you can see if this makes a difference to your baby's symptoms.

scampidoodle Thu 17-Jan-13 17:55:49

Thanks for your advice. I was led to believe it's almost inevitable that this baby will have an allergy! I also didn't know about soya formula and was wondering why GPs didn't just suggest that instead of the hypoallergenic ones. I'm feeling a bit daft now as DS had really bad reflux, vomited much more than other babies (one of the reasons that feeding him was so difficult and I tried not to do it when out and about if I could help it) and developed eczema early on. I'm surprised no one suggested a milk allergy! This is all really useful to know.

freefrommum Thu 17-Jan-13 19:55:25

My experience sounds v similar to yours. Thankfully he was my 2nd so I knew something wasn't right just couldn't work out what. Breastfeeding was a nightmare as he would come off after 30 secs screaming & arching his back so I too couldn't feed out & about either.

Maz007 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:28:53

freefrom you have no idea what a relief it is to hear you describe what it was like breastfeeding your little one! I persevered for nine months (because of lots self imposed pressure mainly) but it was just as you describe for DS who went on to be diagnosed with CMPA when he started on solids. I was convinced that the terrible time we had BF was related to it, but all the professionals I spoke to didn't think it could be... it got easier after he was diagnosed and I gave up dairy but that was explained away as both of us getting better at it!

trixymalixy Thu 17-Jan-13 22:41:21

My experience sounds similar too, DS would feed for a short time then scream and pull off and then want to feed again very soon after as he was hungry. I was exhausted. The GP diagnosed reflux and would not entertain the idea that it could be an allergy. As DS was gaining weight as far as he was concerned it was a "minor inconvenience" and he'd grow out of it hmm.

To answer the OP, I was similarly concerned that DD would also be allergic to milk. I was keen to bf though and was hyper aware of what I was eating and watching for signs of reactions. The only thing i suspected her of being allergic to was egg as her face went red and blotchy after i ate some and then fed her As it turned out DD was not allergic to milk but was allergic to egg. She is nowhere near as allergic as DS. All children are different.

As others have said, soya formula is not recommended. I am sure they will prescribe hypo formula if it is needed, they can't make you breast feed if you don't want to.

scampidoodle Fri 18-Jan-13 12:20:01

Thanks for your posts. It sounds like my experience was pretty typical of feeding a baby with an allergy - all the pulling away, not settling to a feed, reflux etc. DS wasn't putting on weight very well and the HV was always concerned about him and I had times when I was told to feed him every hour through the day, so I felt completely housebound - I just can't do that when I've got a toddler to keep in a routine! At least I will know the signs now.

freefrommum Fri 18-Jan-13 15:00:21

At least your HV was concerned. Ours didn't seem in the slightest bit bothered when DS dropped 4 centiles! When I suggested milk allergy I was told (wrongly of course) that it couldn't be as he didn't have diarrhoea confused. I lost count of the number of times I took him to the HV and GP over the first 9mths of his life until eventually one GP finally looked at his weight chart and was quite shocked. He immediately referred him to paediatrician for 'failure to thrive' and from there we finally got our diagnosis.

Breastfeeding an undiagnosed allergic baby is draining, frustrating and very upsetting but that's not how it is for most mums so you never know, if your 2nd doesn't have any allergies you might find that you both take to breastfeeding really well. I'm not trying to push you into bf as I fully believe that it is a mum's choice and nobody should ever feel bullied into bf (as is often the case in hospital these days). I'm just suggesting that you might find it a totally different experience 2nd time around. Good luck with whatever you decide.

JoleneB Sat 19-Jan-13 08:42:18

Just to drop something else in that may make you want to reconsider going strait on to formula, there is a lot of research that suggests that babies who are exposed to formula in the first few weeks of life have a higher chance of developing milk allergy, and with your first baby being allergic there is already that increased risk.

My DS1 EBF for the 4 weeks, but he was such a hungry baby I introduced formula for his last feed, he had no reaction to cmp.
My DS2 on the other hand was given a cup feed, I was laid up in HDU and couldn't get in to A position to feed her so I agreed she could have a formula cup feed, this triggered her allergy to cmp (though I wasn't aware of this until she was 6 months and introduced to solids, but I too experienced all the things previously mentioned on this post)

I would say just do a little research about it, it would be a real shame if you unwittingly caused an allergy to be triggered through introducing cows milk directly in to the diet too early. My advice would be to EBF for the first few weeks and then slowly change over to formula if your not finding it any easier than you did first time around, I'm neither pro BF or pro FF, I've done both, and wanted DD2 to go on formula, but she refused it like your lo, but the evidence suggests BF at least for the first few weeks would be for the best here

MagratGarlik Sun 20-Jan-13 00:04:02

My consultant told me that types of allergies are not genetic, so far as they know now, but predisposition to allergies are i.e. if your sibling has a milk allergy, you may be fine with milk, but might have an allergy to shellfish, for example.

My ds1 was FF and OK with milk, but has allergies to eggs, nuts, kiwi and a list of a zillion other things. DS2 otoh was BF exclusively till 6 months. He had eczema from birth and when I suggested that this might be due to allergy (ds1 did not develop eczema until his allergens were introduced in his diet) this was waved away. DS2 however, has an allergy to cows milk so severe he carries an epipen.

I remember the hell of BF a milk allergic baby. I would second/third/fourth the suggestion to try formula first and only if you see a problem move to something else. If there is a problem you will then be able to get hypo-allergenic formula anyway.

MagratGarlik Sun 20-Jan-13 00:09:09

Also, JoleneB, as a scientist, I'd be interested to see references to the "a lot of research that babies exposed to formula in the first few weeks of life have a higher chance of developing milk allergy"

Immunology (and with it allergies) is one of the least well understood areas of science. There was also a paper in the British medical journal not so long ago which suggested that whilst breastfeeding is good for any things, it is actually not the best option for allergy prevention!

MerryCouthyMows Sun 20-Jan-13 00:50:07

I discovered DS3 had a dairy allergy by the time he was 6 weeks old. And he was bf.

I realised that his excema worsened, his wheezing as worsened, his vomiting was projectile, and his nappies were like water whenever I had eaten chocolate, yoghurts or cheese, or drunk milk. (I don't drink coffee or tea, so I didn't have milk every day).

So it IS possible to discover a dairy allergy while a DC is bf.

However - getting it dxd didn't happen for quite some time after that!

MerryCouthyMows Sun 20-Jan-13 00:54:44

Freefrommum - that describes DS3 down to a tee, the difficulties with bf - the arching, screaming etc. Many threads on MN about it, all put down to his TT and lip tie.

Nope, he actually has a severe allergy to CMP, goes into anaphylaxis from even secondhand contact. He is also allergic to soy (discovered at weaning age).

Was on a dairy free diet myself from 8 weeks old, he was weaned on a dairy free diet, stopped soy in diet on GP advice at 9mo, has been dairy, soy free ever since, and nut free since 15mo and first nut-based anaphylaxis.

MerryCouthyMows Sun 20-Jan-13 01:03:33

I kept telling the HV and the GP that I had previously fed 3 older DC's, one who ALSO had TT and lip tie - and none of them were as difficult to feed.

The original reason for going dairy free was because a BF counsellor said that the dairy was obviously making his excema worse.

Neither the HV or the GP listened to me, I ended up bf for 12 months. The only way they listened to me was when I HAD to stop bf, due to meds I needed to start taking being incompatible with bf, and I put him on cow's milk. (He WAS over 12 months.)

He was seriously ill, projectile vomiting constantly, in hospital, wheezy, hives, watery diarrhoea te works. Only THEN did everybody listen to my suspicions - which were later proven correct with skin prick tests.

I had fed three older DC's, without any issue. But feeding DS3 nearly broke me, because it was just SO much more difficult.

I now know that he was still reacting to trace amounts of dairy in my diet, and also to the soya I had replaced the dairy with...

freefrommum Sun 20-Jan-13 17:34:46

Sad thing was because DS was so difficult to bf that I started him on formula at about 8 weeks and initially he seemed to take to this better than bf so I reluctantly switched, not realising that this was in fact the worst thing I could do! If only I'd known that all I had to do was remove all dairy from my diet then things could've been so different. Ironic thing is I don't like most dairy except for cheese but deliberately made myself eat more of it as I thought it was good for my breastmilk! Hindsight is a wonderful thing grin

NotAnotherPackedLunch Sun 20-Jan-13 17:50:53

If you could bear it it might be worth trying to breast feed initially (whilst having all the formula feeding supplies in place so you can drop breast feeding if it's not for you).

Breastfeeding my two DC were two entirely different experiences.

Feeding DC1 was not great for the first few months. The way she messed around drove me mad. DC2 was much more businesslike from the start and feeding him was a pleasure even when I had to go on to the exclusion diet for his allergies the actual feeding part remained fine.

scampidoodle Mon 21-Jan-13 11:07:22

Thanks for the advice. I think I'm still going to go with the formula and just see how it goes. I think I have a fear of breastfeeding after last time! Although I do appreciate that most of the problems were probably down to the allergy (plus a tongue tie initially, but that was sorted at 8 weeks). I will at least know what to look out for and hopefully the GP will be more sympathetic if i think there might be an allergy, rather than thinking I'm a neurotic woman who doesn't realise that all babies cry a lot and lots of them have reflux. I've also heard that getting a baby onto solids early can help with allergies (although obviously not if it's something that's already very obvious) so will bear that in mind.

JoleneB Mon 21-Jan-13 13:32:00

Magratgarlik, as a scientist I'm sure I don't need to tell you how to find research papers, but here is a link to just one of the many studies that have been done on this very subject

MagratGarlik Mon 21-Jan-13 22:00:10

JoleneB, no I don't need you to tell me how to find research papers, but you are very defensive in your response.

Of course, you will note that in the paper you linked to, the incidence of CMA in babies fed noon-hydrolysed formula (i.e. regular formula milk) was 2.4%, whereas the incidence in babies exclusively breastfed was 2.1%. The confidence intervals being too big to establish these numbers as significantly different. The authors themselves note that 'exclusive breastfeeding does not eliminate the risk' of developing CMPA and in fact if you look at what they are actually saying, they are saying that if babies require supplemental feeding, using hydrolysed formula (e.g. nutramigen and so on) is associated with a lower chance of developing CMPA than regular formula.

Of course, one possible explanation for this is that babies who are breastfed are exposed to cows milk protein at an early stage, as it is present in breast milk. Hence, the difference becomes significant only when exposure is eliminated in the form of destroying the protein by hydrolysis.

redwellybluewelly Mon 21-Jan-13 22:08:42

I discovered dd had CMPI at six weeks old, she was EBF but was given all sorts of stuff in NICU via NG tube including formula.

She is now 2.6 and has continued with a severe milk intolerance. She has also still got silent reflux. She cannot have soya either. Weaning early wasnt an option and in fact although she now eats like a horseits been a battle

MagratGarlik Mon 21-Jan-13 22:09:43

You are also aware, I assume that the research you linked to is funded by Nutricia - makers of Neonate?

Not many conflicts of interests there then?

JoleneB Tue 22-Jan-13 07:25:26

MargratGarlick, questioning my integrity when I was only offering my opinion based not only on experience (I am founder of a non profit organisation focused on raising awareness and training for primary care health staff in diagnosing and managing CMPA) but also numerous medical and independent studies, is going to make one slightly defensive!

It only takes a simple search through research papers to find many many studies that have been completed over the recent decades, and as you claim to be a scientist I would expect you to be able to go away and find the research yourself rather than ask me to back up my comment.

Regarding the information I posted, which by the way just happened to be the first one that came up when I performed a search in my phones browser, confirms exactly what I said, that there is an increased (albeit a small increase) risk of milk allergy in infants who are fed cows milk formula at birth.

In my original comment I pointed out, that as first line relatives are atopic there is an increased risk of the new baby developing allergies (the op is already aware of this FACT) and also the increased risk of developing a milk allergy if cows milk is introduced in the early weeks. In this instance, if the infant was to be given the best chance of not developing cma then breast feeding for the first weeks (or at least first days to deliver the antibody rich colostrum) would be the best option. Of course this isn't going to eliminate the risk entirely, but would decrease an already high risk case, even if only slightly.

As for the study I posted being funded by Nutricia, I'm not sure what this is based on, the study was completed in Helsinki in 1999, Nutricia are based in the Netherlands, not Sweden. Also, if the study was completed by them don't you think they would try to used an amino acid formula rather than a hydrolised whey formula, seeing as neocate is an aa formula? Now I'm sure you could argue that nutricia are affiliated with danone, who inturn produce aptamil pepti, a hydrolised whey formula, but of course danone is a French company.

I'm not sure why you decided to pick on the advice I gave, perhaps you are so against bf that you like to push your views on to everyone else, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that was all I offered to the op, my opinion based on facts, and studies, and I stand by my original opinion, breast, at least for a couple of weeks would offer some protection against CMPA developing.

To the op, you do what you feel is right for you, if you truly hated bf then don't do it, if you think you can stand it for a week or two it would offer some protection, you could also express and bottle feed those first important feeds so that your baby gets the protection that is delivered through colostrum. No body can tell you what to do, it is your choice and your choice alone, having asked for options on a public board you have received information and you can now use it to make your own informed decision.

op I wish you the best of luck, whatever you decide and sincerely hope that your new baby is allergy free smile

MagratGarlik Tue 22-Jan-13 08:15:23

If you read my post you would see that I exclusively breastfed my own milk allergic ds2, so no I am not against breastfeeding.

As for the study being funded by Nutricia, if you read the full article (as I did), not just the abstract, you would see that funding from Nutricia Helsinki is acknowledged at the end of the paper.

As you will also see, the authors say there is no significant difference in CMPA developing between the formula fed babies and the breastfed babies.

I am simply question the source of your strong assertions that breastfeeding would be the best thing in this case (breastfeeding a milk allergic baby can be pure hell BTW, which can only really be appreciated by people who have done it).

You on the other hand are becoming personally insulting and there is no need for that. You question my credentials add a scientist - I completed my PhD many years ago and have headed my own research group at a prestigious university. However, there is no need to get personal just because I question your information.

MagratGarlik Tue 22-Jan-13 08:31:33

Further, the hydrolysed formula used is Pepti Junior, which is acknowledged in the methods as being produced by Nutricia (which makes sense as Nutricia is the medical food arm of Danone, which is also the parent company of cow and gate, who used to make Pepti).

galwaygirl Tue 22-Jan-13 08:40:25

My sister ebf her DD1 til she was about 8-10 weeks and diagnosed with CMPA and lactose intolerance. With her DD2 she was advised she would probably have the same issue but tried bf and then goats milk formula but said afterwards she should have gone straight to hypoallergenic formula.
Seems like there's a bit of debate about the likelihood of subsequent children having CMPA but why stress yourself out if the option of the hypoallergenic formula is there?

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