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Most formula contains cow's milk protein, the most common food allergy among babies. And many infants who react to cow's milk are also allergic to soy-based formula.
Note: A milk protein intolerance is different than lactose intolerance, which is extremely rare in infants.
Signs of an allergy to milk or soy in formula
It's not surprising that some of the most common allergic reactions to formula are gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Abdominal pain
These additional clues may indicate a possible formula allergy:
- Continual fussiness or crying, along with obvious discomfort shortly after you've started or finished a feeding
- Excessive gassiness or "colicky" behavior
- Stools that are unusually hard or excessively loose, watery, and foul smelling
- Frequent spitting up
Not all signs of a formula allergy are gastrointestinal. Other signs of an allergy include:
- Chronic nasal stuffiness
- Runny nose
A severe food allergy may cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. If your baby has any of the following symptoms, call 911 or seek emergency care immediately:
- Turning blue
- Trouble breathing
- Facial swelling (including lips or tongue)
What should I do if I think my baby is allergic to formula?
First, check with your child's doctor to make sure that something else isn't causing the symptoms. And ask the doctor if she recommends switching to a new formula. Once she rules out other possibilities, she may recommend a hypoallergenic (hydrolyzed) formula that's processed so as to avoid allergic reactions.