Control your baby’s allergies with the right formula
- Pediatricians recommend extensively hydrolyzed hypoallergenic formulas for infants with mild to moderate cow’s milk protein allergy.
- Amino acid formulas are used when infants have severe symptoms or multiple food allergies.
- Soy formulas may be another option, but babies with cow’s milk protein allergy may also react to soy protein.
Cow’s milk protein allergy is the most common allergy in infants. And routine infant formulas are milk-based and therefore a source of cow’s milk protein. Pediatricians often suggest a “hypoallergenic,” extensively hydrolyzed formula for babies when they think they might have a cow’s milk protein allergy. That’s because hypoallergenic formulas have proteins that are “hydrolyzed” or broken down into very small pieces. This process helps most babies with cow’s milk protein allergy tolerate the formula, and avoid reactions to the larger proteins that are in routine milk-based infant formula.
Differences in special formulas
Be sure to work with your pediatrician when considering hypoallergenic formulas. There are two types: extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid formulas. The main difference is the form of “protein” in these formulas. Extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas are small chains of amino acids and amino acid formulas are made of only amino acids for the "protein" source.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
Extensively hydrolyzed formulas contain very short links of these amino acids joined together.
If extensively hydrolyzed, hypoallergenic formulas don’t help your baby with cow’s milk protein allergy, her pediatrician might suggest switching to an amino acid-based formula to see if that works.
Amino acid-based formulas are for babies who are highly sensitive to cow’s milk protein. These formulas can also help babies with multiple food allergies.
Routine milk-based infant formulas, including those with “comfort proteins” in which proteins are partially broken down, should not be given to infants who may have a cow’s milk protein allergy.
What about soy?
Soy formulas may be another option your baby’s doctor might recommend; however, some infants that are allergic to cow’s milk proteins are also allergic to soy proteins.
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