Switching to Soy Milk instead of Cow Milk?

When your baby starts showing signs of a milk allergy, it’s normal to think that soy might be a good replacement for cow’s milk. After all, if you became lactose intolerant, you may switch to soy milk. However, similar to what Steven blogged about earlier this week, lactose intolerance is a negative response to the sugar in milk, while a milk allergy is a reaction to the protein. Soy milk or a soy-based formula is not the recommended choice for a baby with a milk allergy.

Marybeth and I talk to a lot of mothers with kids that have milk allergies who either switch to a soy formula or, if breastfeeding, replace the dairy in their diet with soy to try to relieve the symptoms. We understand that this seems to be the most logical and healthy next step.

However, some parents don’t realize that up to about 50% of kids with milk allergies can also be allergic to the protein in soy. That’s one of the reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not to use soy to manage milk allergies in babies. (The AAP actually also recommends not to feed soy-based formula to any infant because soy allergies are much more common in infants than children or adults.)

Similar to what we have suggested for managing milk allergies, if your baby has an allergy to soy, remove all soy from his/her diet immediately.

A few symptoms of soy allergy are:

  • Acne
  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Eczema
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Lethargy
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

So, if you’re changing your child’s formula because he/she has a milk allergy, the recommended options are formulas whose protein comes from extensively hydrolyzed milk protein or from amino acids. Amino acid-based formulas have been clinically shown to relieve the symptoms of a milk allergy. As always, ask your doctor if you have further questions, and also feel free to send comments and questions our way.

Take care,

Published: 01/31/2008
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