What Options Do I Have If My Baby Is Allergic to Cow’s Milk Protein? Safety and Efficacy of a New Extensively Hydrolyzed Formula for Infants with Cow's Milk Protein Allergy

in Research Findings

An allergy to cow’s milk protein is the main cause of childhood food allergies and is a predictive factor for other immunological diseases, such as rhinitis and asthma.

Furthermore, previous studies have shown that children with allergies tend to grow less than healthy children, probably because they must eliminate several foods from their diets and don’t have adequate substitutions. It is also possible that inflammatory processes at the gastrointestinal level mediated by the allergic response may compromise the absorption of certain nutrients.

So, although the first line of treatment for a cow’s milk protein allergy is the complete elimination of cow’s milk from the baby’s diet, something must replace cow’s milk because the baby needs food. Infant formulas are a possible alternative.

Similar read on this website: Scientists Find a Solution of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy in Infants

Currently, in the commercial market, there are many kinds of infant formulas. Extensively hydrolyzed formulas can be used with children who are intolerant or highly allergic to cow’s milk protein, but one of the main problems with this type of formula is the bad taste. Many children reject the formula because of it.

A Possible Solution

To find a solution to the flavor issue, some German and Austrian scientists conducted a study entitled “Safety and Efficacy of a New Extensively Hydrolyzed Formula for Infants with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy,” in which they tested an extensively hydrolyzed infant formula that contained milk protein–free lactose to improve the taste. The goal was to assess whether it was better tolerated by infants with a cow’s milk protein allergy.

The study was conducted in three specialized centers in Germany. Healthy infants under twelve months old who had a suspected allergy to cow’s milk protein were evaluated. Children who were not allergic to cow’s milk protein were discarded as well as those born prematurely; those who had disorders of the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system; and those who had congenital cardiovascular malformations.

After a series of tests and selections, two groups of children were formed. One group received a control formula, and the other group received the new extensively hydrolyzed formula.

The children were sent home with a supply of their assigned formula. They were visited on days 28, 60, 90, and 180 to evaluate their anthropometric measurements (weight and height) and to examine for the presence of any symptoms related to cow’s milk protein allergy, including skin, respiratory, or gastrointestinal issues.

Blood samples were collected at the beginning of the study and during the first and third visits. These samples were analyzed for specific immunoglobulins that indicate a cow’s milk protein allergy and for other parameters the researchers considered important.

Parents kept records of the amount of formula consumed by the child daily, the child’s intake of other complementary foods or drinks, the characteristics of the child’s stool, the child’s behavior, and any gastrointestinal signs.

Results

Children in both study groups had comparable physical characteristics, with similar patterns of weight, height, and head circumference. However, the children’s measurements were lower compared to children of the same age who do not have an allergy to cow’s milk protein.

There were no significant differences in the fecal characteristics between the two groups, although unusual colors and soft stools did occur. The amount of infant formula the children consumed was also similar in both groups, as was the presence of the immunoglobulin specific to cow’s milk. Finally, the blood tests did not show statistically significant differences between the children of both groups.

All the children tolerated the two infant formulas very well, with a 90 to 95 percent acceptance rate. Indeed, one of the most important results of this study is that the children even tolerated the new extensively hydrolyzed infant formula, perhaps due to its better taste and few adverse effects. This good tolerance also caused growth rates to improve, approaching those of healthy or nonallergic children. These formulas also have an additional economic benefit; they are less expensive than traditional formulas.

Consult a pediatrician if it is necessary to modify a baby’s diet or if the baby has a suspected allergy to cow’s milk protein. Do not give up breastfeeding unless the doctor says to do so. Remember that breast milk is the best food for babies.

Reference

Niggemann, B., A. Von Berg, C. Bollrath, D. Berdel, U. Schauer, C. Rieger, E. Haschke‐Becher, and U. Wahn. “Safety and efficacy of a new extensively hydrolyzed formula for infants with cow’s milk protein allergy.” Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 19, no. 4 (2008): 348-354. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18167160

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