It may have taken some time to pinpoint the cause of your baby’s distressing behavior. Now that cow’s milk allergy has been identified, it is understandable that you want your baby to feel better fast. Your doctor may recommend an extensively hydrolyzed, hypoallergenic formula.
How soon will my baby feel better?
Infants who have cow’s milk allergy start to feel better quickly after a switch to an extensively hydrolyzed formula. In fact, allergic reactions such as colic due to cow’s milk allergy are often managed within 48 hours after a baby starts consuming an extensively hydrolyzed formula.
Other allergic reactions should subside over the course of two to four weeks.
What healthy signs of improvement should I look for?
In addition to quickly becoming less fussy and colicky, infants who consume an extensively hydrolyzed formula also experience these healthy changes.
Gastrointestinal health. Extensively hydrolyzed formula is proven to promote gastrointestinal health. In one study, infants with suspected cow’s milk allergy who were fed an extensively hydrolyzed formula for four weeks had no blood in their stools (a sign of intestinal inflammation).1
Skin health. Children who consumed an extensively hydrolyzed formula experienced no sign of provoked skin reactions in oral challenges.2
Earlier tolerance to cow's milk. After 12 months on a diet of an extensively hydrolyzed formula with LGG, 81 percent of babies with cow’s milk allergy had built a tolerance to cow’s milk protein compared to 54% of babies consuming an extensively hydrolyzed formula without LGG.3 Previous research suggested that children may not outgrow cow’s milk allergy until age five. You should introduce your baby to foods made with cow’s milk only while under a doctor’s supervision.
How will I know whether cow's milk allergy was causing my baby's behavior?
After cow’s milk protein has been eliminated from your infant’s diet, your doctor may request an oral food challenge. This involves feeding your baby a small amount of a milk-based product and carefully monitoring for any signs of reactions. This process may take place at your doctor’s office, or your doctor may ask you to gradually reintroduce routine cow’s milk formula into your baby’s diet while you note any behavioral changes. You should introduce your baby to foods made with cow’s milk only while under a doctor’s supervision.
Can I use a routine infant formula when my baby seems better?
The main reason your baby isn’t currently having problems is because an extensively hydrolyzed formula has been specially designed to manage cow’s milk allergy. There is a likelihood your baby’s allergic reactions will return if you start feeding her a routine infant formula too soon. Until recently, studies suggested that children may not outgrow cow’s milk allergy until age five. Research now suggests that your baby may build tolerance to cow’s milk protein in as quickly as 12 months when you feed her an extensively hydrolyzed formula during her first year. These are just some reasons why your baby should remain on an extensively hydrolyzed formula for as long as your doctor recommends. You should introduce your baby to foods made with cow’s milk only while under a doctor’s supervision.
What if my baby's behavior doesn't improve?
Although most babies start to feel better after switching to an extensively hydrolyzed formula, it can take up to six weeks before cow’s milk allergy is fully managed. You should contact your doctor any time that you are concerned about your baby’s health. Rarely, infants who have severe cow’s milk allergy need a hypoallergenic formula made with proteins that have been simplified into their purest form: amino acids. An amino acid-based elemental formula contains no cow’s milk protein and is recommended for infants who have severe allergic reactions.
*LGG is a registered trademark of Valio LTD.
- Baldassarre ME et al. J Pediatr. 2010;156:397-401
- Muraro A. An extensively hydrolyzed formula with and without a probiotic is hypoallergenic in children with milk hypersensitivity. World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. 2008. Iguassu Falls, Brazil. Abstract P0832.; Host A, et al. Allergy. 1988; 43: 113-118.
- Berni Canani R et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012; 129: 580-582