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Cows milk and constipation

(10 Posts)
Jodiesmum Tue 23-Dec-03 21:04:20

Does anyone have any experience of constipation in a baby being down to cows milk allergy? This was suggested to us by one doctor as a possible cause of dd2's chronic problem so she's now on a completely disgusting prescription formula (in addition to breast milk) which she loathes. Everytthing I've read about cows milk allergy talks about diarrhoea and vomiting being the main symptoms with no mention of constipation so i'm wondering if this is a red herring, specially as she's shown no particular improvement from being off cows milk for 2 months. i'd love to put her back on her old formula (SMA gold) as at least she liked it but of course don't want to do so if it may make things any worse for her. any views? (I posted this on the health board a few days ago but got no replies so am having another go here).

MincePie Tue 23-Dec-03 21:10:28

Can I ask how old she is? And why you are mixing breast milk and cows milk? I have heard of people getting consipated from a lactose intolerance, but mainly adults.

Brandysnap Tue 23-Dec-03 21:15:43

My friend's daughter suffered from chronic constipation caused by a lactose intolerance and she she now follows a strict diet. If you are breast feeding why don't you drop all the formulas and just stick with that?

Jodiesmum Tue 23-Dec-03 21:29:57

That's really interesting - and it seems like you are both talking about lactose intolerance rather than cows milk allergy ? I understand these 2 are very different. Dh is lactose intolerant so maybe that could be relevant. Mincepie - DD2 is nearly 9 months, which is why I really want to be giving her something in addition to breast milk, with a view to getting off the breast by Feb when I'm supposed to be going back to work. ALso I've never been able to breast feed exclusively as my milk supply has never been good enough, especially in the evening (long story but DD2 was in hospital for first 2 months and fed intravenously, which obviously really messed things up). Brandysnap - did your friends daughter have any other symptoms? and what age did the problem come to light?

Brandysnap Tue 23-Dec-03 21:37:43

My friends dd was bottle fed and had problems from when she was a baby. She used to be sick constantly. It wasn't until she got older that constipation became the problem. I think she was probably about 4 before she got put onto the special diet.

I'm not totally convinced that her problems were all down to a lactose intolerance as she seemed to have a phobia about having a poo on the toilet. She would only go in a nappy and this was going on right up until she started school. Her parents have recently seperated and she is having problems using the toilet again.

Not really sure if that is very helpful, probably not. Sorry.

bobthebaby Tue 23-Dec-03 21:47:25

Hi, If the problem is the proteins in cows milk and you are still drinking milk or eating milk products then protein from the cows milk in your breast milk could be why no improvement has been shown.

If she is lactose intolerant - well there is lactose in breastmilk so again this could be why.

I wouldn't be happy to put my baby on a revolting prescription formula (the fact that I have an unopened tin of neocate in the cupboard is proof of this) when the doctor only "thinks" this could be the problem.

Both cows protein allergy and lactose intolerance can be tested for, I would push for this. Until you know what you are dealing with it is really difficult to know what to do. Also if they get a negative for both cows milk protein and lactose intol. then they will have to look at other reasons.

At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, have you tried probiotics? They help the gut work more effectively and could help in this case without a major diet or lifestyle change for either of you.

Jodiesmum Tue 23-Dec-03 22:36:23

Do you know what the tests involve and how to get them?

bobthebaby Wed 24-Dec-03 00:07:47

Sorry, I don't know about the UK, I live in NZ. Here I just asked the GP for a referral and we have private health care. I saw a paediatric allergist and gastro guy. Bob only had skin prick tests and the milk, egg and peanut ones came up so that's what we avoid. His bowel problems were cured with an adult size dose of probiotics every day.

I have had the test for lactose intolerance myself and that was a tube down the throat job, but I don't know what they do for babies.

I am going to state the obvious here - but have you checked all the packets for hidden milk in your baby's diet. Also does your baby eat wheat? If so I would be tempted to cut that out for a couple of weeks and see if that makes a difference, especially if you have a long wait to see a specialist.

PamT Wed 24-Dec-03 06:32:49

My dd is milk intolerant (protein, not just lactose)though I wouldn't say she was allergic. Although diarrhoea is the classic symptom of lactose intolerance there are many others that range from hives to headaches, not forgetting constipation. DD suffered badly with constipation and stomach cramps and it was ultimately the timing of these cramps that led to her diagnosis. It only takes minute amounts of milk derivatives to set her off so we have to watch out for hidden milk in everything. Many children are also affected by contaminated breastmilk - if mum consumes milk, then the baby feels it.

You should try a period of exclusion from your own diet - no chocolate, cheese, yoghurt etc (and watch out for hidden milk in almost all convenience foods). If you don't see an improvement then, I would have a go with cow's milk formula again to see if there is an adverse reaction.

Testing is not widely available in the UK and not recognised as being particularly reliable either. Most health authorities rely on exclusion diets and reintroduction of problem foods to identify intolerances, though true allergies can be tested for much more easily, usually in hospital where there is a risk of anaphylactic shock.

Jodiesmum Wed 24-Dec-03 23:56:30

THanks, that's really helpful, BtheB and PamT. I'm going to try cutting all milk products out of my diet and see if that helps. DD2's diet is still incredibly limited - only introduced solids 2 weeks ago and so far she's only having a tiny bit of pureed fruit or baby rice mixed with apple juice so if milk is messing her up, it's via me. I guess if I try this for a while and there is no improvement, I will draw the conclusion that the constipation has another cause, as you say PamT. Must say I do feel a bit desperate at the thought of breastfeeding exclusively for much longer but there doesn't seem to be an alternative as DD2 is now completely refusing the Nutramigen and all options (cows milk/ goats milk/ soya) seem to be ruled out for now.

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