Hypoallergenic Baby Formula
Hypoallergenic foods for infants are specialized products they give to babies prone to allergies. What kind of formula is best for a baby with various food intolerances? What are the most important things to know to pick the right formula? Let’s find out.
Why do babies develop allergies?
Food allergies are quite common for newborns. According to statistics, 6-10% of infants experience various allergies during the first year of life. Food intolerance is based on complex mechanisms of the immune system. In simple terms, it’s an inadequately strong immune response to allergens entering the body. If not addressed, these conditions can lead to various allergic diseases in the future.
Out of all food allergens that provoke food intolerance in babies, cow’s milk protein is the most important.
But why do some children tolerate any products safely, while others develop allergies? There can be many factors responsible, but we can highlight the main ones:
- Genetics. If close relatives have allergies, there is a high probability that a baby will also have them. And this is a proportional relationship. Scientists figured out that if one of the parents has allergies, the risk of hypersensitivity to allergens for a child is about 30%. If it’s both parents, the risk is much higher (around 60%).
- Formula-feeding or mixed feeding. Babies that, for one reason or another, were weaned early are much more likely to suffer from allergies, even if they have no hereditary predisposition. This fact has been repeatedly confirmed by studies. Scientists have noticed a correlation between the timing of the introduction of formula and allergies. According to their observations, food intolerance is more likely the earlier the baby is weaned and switched to formula.
The immaturity of the digestive system plays a major role in the development of allergies. In the first year, a baby’s digestive system can’t fully perform its protective functions. This makes it easier for the allergens to get into the blood.
How is hypoallergenic formula different from regular baby foods?
The main components in therapeutic formulas are the same as in regular products, but the protein composition of hypoallergenic milks is different. This is due to the fact that babies react specifically to the protein component.
- Standard milks for infants include complete chains of protein molecules that can provoke an allergic reaction;
- Hypoallergenic products contain chains of protein molecules split into small fragments (hydrolyzed). The size of the fragments determines the degree of hypoallergenicity of the formula.
How to pick hypoallergenic formula
Hypoallergenic baby foods should be introduced into an infant’s diet based on a pediatrician’s recommendations. This, however, doesn’t mean that you as a parent don’t have to worry about the things included in these products. Some ingredients should definitely be there while others you can do without (palm oil, for example).
Some of the components you want to see in a HA formula are probiotics and breast milk oligosaccharides.
Breast milk contains substances that help form “good” microflora in the baby’s gut. But if your little one is formula-fed, they are deprived of this natural protection. This might be the reason for digestive disorders, weakened immunity, and food intolerances.
The solution to this problem can be the use of HA baby formula enriched with probiotics. They promote the growth of beneficial flora, such as Bifidus and lactobacilli. Baby foods with probiotics generally improve digestion, reduce anxiety associated with colic, and protect an infant’s body from allergies.
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO)
These are the third most abundant component of breast milk (after lactose and fat). This fact alone makes it clear how important they are in a baby’s diet. Scientists have been able to prove that oligosaccharides in breast milk are essential for the baby’s immune system, digestive comfort, and allergy prevention.
To mimic mother’s milk, many infant formulas contain galactooligosaccharides (GOS) that protect your baby’s intestines from harmful influence. HiPP formula, for example, contains GOSs regardless of stage or specialization.
How do you switch to the HA formula?
In order to track the reaction of your little one to the new type of food, it’s better to start the transition to HA formula with a third or a quarter of a normal portion and gradually increase it.
If after a week (although the timing may vary), the symptoms are still there, the formula doesn’t work and you need to move on to milks with a deeper degree of hydrolyzation.
If there are no skin rashes or GIT issues (constipation, loose stools, gassiness, etc.), look at how they eat the formula. If your baby feels good, there are no tummy problems and you can continue with the product.
Hypoallergenic formulas reduce the risk of allergic reactions in newborns. In some cases, they even help build a tolerance to cow’s milk protein. If your baby shows any allergy symptoms, consult a doctor to find a formula that is most beneficial and, of course, harmless.