Yesterday we discovered that our 5 month old son has a sensitivity to cow's milk. A few weeks ago we started giving him some rice cereal which we mixed with water to supplement the breast milk he's been having exclusively up to that point.
We didn't notice at first but after about 7 days we realized that he had been a lot crankier than normal, not sleeping as well and had very red cheeks. Kelly did a little research in one of her many baby books and found that it these were all typical symptoms of a food sensitivity or allergy. We thought that maybe we had started to give him cereal too young (the health unit now recommends six months, but we had given our daughter rice cereal at four months without any problems) and his digestive system maybe couldn't handle it.
Everything was OK, but then we noticed that he hadn't gained any weight in a couple of weeks, so our doctor suggested that maybe it was a breast milk supply problem and that we should supplement with formula after each feed. We tried that and he started to get the same red cheeks and fussiness that we previously saw with the rice cereal.
We mentioned it to our doctor again who came to the conclusion that it was probably a sensitivity or allergy to the cow milk proteins in the formula and in the rice cereal. He then suggested we start on a soy based formula instead.
So out came the baby books again and we read that about 40% of kids who have an allergy or sensitivity to cow milk proteins will also have the same reaction to soy. So we called the health unit who basically suggested that we just stick with breast milk until he is 8 months old when we can introduce some solid foods. So now we are debating whether to try the soy formula, or just stick exclusively with breast milk. We will probably go with the formula after about a week when he's over the current reaction because he is just having a mild reaction and Kelly is pretty exhausted from all the feeding (7-9 times a day with 1-2 wakings in the night).
Some other things I learned about allergies in the past couple days:
- any allergy, not just food allergies, in a parent (including things like hay fever) is an indicator for potential food allergies in children. I always thought that food allergies were completely different from environmental allergies.
- 1 in 3 children that exhibit eczema as a sensitivity reaction to a food prior to six months of age (which my son did) will develop asthma or some other allergy by age 3.