Infant Rashes, Colds and Upset Stomachs

Common baby ailments or a milk allergy?

Common baby ailments

Rashes, colds and upset stomachs are common baby ailments. But the occurrence of one or more of these symptoms can also signal a serious allergy that, unrecognized, can make an infant miserable and malnourished.

More than 100,000 babies each year suffer from infant milk allergy. These babies cannot process the complex protein chains found in milk-based infant formulas and many also react to soy-based formulas. Because the condition causes digestive, respiratory and/or skin problems, it is often difficult to recognize.

Infant milk allergy is treated by either eliminating the proteins from the nursing mother's diet or by replacing milk and soy-based formulas with an amino acid-based formula. This type of formula uses non-allergenic amino acids, the building blocks of protein, instead of partial or complete protein chains. It does not require a prescription, but infants taking the formula should be under the care of a physician.

READ MORE: How to cope when your child has food allergies

Here are eight signs from Dr. John Moissidis, a Board certified pediatric allergist at The Asthma Allergy Clinic in Shreveport, La., to help parents of infants identify a potential milk allergy. Also note that if a baby exhibits persistent colic episodes associated with vomiting and diarrhea that last longer than the time period of a common stomach virus (more than five to seven days), parents should consult their physician as soon as possible.

1. Diarrhea. Diarrhea is common in babies, but if it is persistent (an average of two to four times a day for more than five to seven days) and/or if there is blood in the stool, it could signal a more serious milk allergy.

2. Vomiting. Babies often spit up bits of food, but vomiting beyond the typical mealtime regurgitation should be examined by a doctor. Reflux symptoms, such as spit-up and difficulty swallowing, can also be milk allergy symptoms.

3. Skin Rash. There are many causes for infant skin rashes like eczema. Milk allergy is one possible cause, especially if the rash occurs along with some of these other symptoms.

4. Extreme Fussiness. Every baby cries, but crying continuously and inconsolably for long periods of time is abnormal. When there is no apparent reason, this is usually called colic. Sometimes this extreme fussiness is actually caused by the gastrointestinal pain resulting from an allergy to the proteins found in milk.

5. Low or No Weight Gain. Most infants double their weight by six months and triple it by 12 months. Another sign of good weight gain is when babies follow the standard developmental growth charts at their doctor's health maintenance visits. But when babies are not getting the nutrition they need because of excessive diarrhea and vomiting, they are unable to grow like they should.

6. Gassiness. All babies have gas, but when it occurs along with several of these other symptoms, it can also signal an allergy to milk proteins.

7. Respiratory Problems. Colds are common for infants, but wheezing, struggling to breathe and developing excess mucus in the nose and throat is not. For some kids, these respiratory problems can be the baby's reaction to the proteins found in milk.

8. Failure to Thrive. Babies with milk allergy often suffer from a lack of proper nutrition characterized by dehydration, loss of appetite and lack of energy. This overall failure to thrive is often the result of the other symptoms' effect on the infant's body.

These tips were provided by Dr. John Moissidis and Nutricia North America, manufacturer of Neocate, an amino acid-based infant formula. Studies have shown that Neocate is an effective treatment for milk and soy allergies, as well as other gastrointestinal disorders in infants and children.