Formula Feeding

Q1: My baby doesn’t seem well after bottle feeding with milk formula or dairy product.

a) My baby may be allergic to cow’s milk proteins
b) My baby may have lactose intolerance
c) A. or B.

Answer: C

Explanation: A baby that feels unwell after formula feeding may be showing symptoms of:
  • An allergy to the proteins found in cow’s milk (which provoke a defensive reaction by the immune system), or;
  • An intolerance to the sugar in the milk, called lactose intolerance (resulting from an insufficient secretion of lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, in the intestine). The number of cases of allergies has been on the rise (there are many causes and the list is still vague according to specialists). For example, eczema is an allergic condition affecting about 20% of young children under the age of 2. Surprisingly, of the children who suffer from severe eczema, 30% of them could also have a food allergy. If you think your baby is having a reaction to cow’s milk, always seek medical advice.

  • Q2: The following are signs of an allergy to cow’s milk proteins:

    a) Skin: hives, eczema, redness and/or dryness.
    b) Digestive: regurgitation, vomiting, chronic diarrhoea (in newborn babies), stomach pain (in young children).
    c) Respiratory: wheezy cough, asthma, difficulty breathing.

    Answer: All of the above

    Explanation: It is not easy to tell the difference between a cow’s milk protein allergy and lactose intolerance, as the signs vary and may be confused with other conditions.

    However, generally speaking, there are three main types of symptoms indicating an allergy to cow’s milk proteins: skin, digestive and respiratory, as opposed to mainly digestive symptoms for lactose intolerance.

    Symptoms caused by an allergy also tend to last longer and rise in intensity over long periods, whereas signs of lactose intolerance are generally more episodic in nature, occuring and resolving within a few hours after feeding.

    Q3: There is a history of allergies in my family. This is:

    a) Not a factor
    b) Of major significance

    Answer: B

    Explanation: While a parent or sibling may be allergic to foods such as cow’s milk , it does not mean that the baby has also inherited their cow’s milk allergy. Having said that, a higher level of food allergies have been observed in families with a history of other types of allergy.

    If either parent has a family history of allergies, it is best for your child to undergo full allergy testing with a specialist. The specialist may carry out a food challenge (with the benefit of immediate observations of adverse reactions), and/or possibly blood or skin prick tests to determine which foods your child is allergic to. Use the table on the right to help find out your child’s allergy risk.

    Q4: I used to have eczema when I was a child, does it mean that my baby has a higher chance of developing an allergy?

    a) Yes
    b) No

    Answer: A

    Explanation: As allergy is genetically predisposed, if the baby is born into a family with parental history of allergy, he runs a higher risk of developing an allergy. While there is not yet a cure for allergic disease, your doctor can help you to develop a plan that may reduce his risk.

    You should, of course, follow the advice of your doctor, but here are some ideas to consider:

    First of all, you will most likely be advised to breastfeed the baby. If formula is to be considered, after breastfeeding your doctor may introduce you to a clinically proven partiallyhydrolysed protein formula, in which the proteins are much smaller and more easily digested, so that your baby would tolerate the formula well. Partially-hydrolysed protein formula is just as nutritious as regular cow’s milk formula and will contribute just as effectively to your baby’s growth.

    Secondly, you will have to learn when to wean your baby. Your doctor will alert you not to wean your baby earlier than 4 months. You can learn along the way what to feed your baby after 6 months. Lastly, you may seek your doctor’s advice on how to make adjustments to the environment to reduce allergy risk, such as avoiding smoking or cleaning regularly to eliminate dust mites