Feeding Hypersensitive Infants
Commercially prepared formulas, made from cow's milk or soya beans, have progressed over the years toward a more "human" composition by significant processing of the milk and addition of nutrients. Both cow’s milk and soya-based formulas present a host of potential problems, however to some infants. Cow’s milk causes disease through its protein content by causing both immediate and delayed patterns of allergy. Soya formulas present similar protein allergy problems and also contain high levels of plant estrogens that may interfere with normal development. If mother decides not to breast feed her infant, there are no easy safe and secure formulas to turn to.
The decision is often based on guessing which formula offers the least risk of problems. We have deleted recommendations for soya formulas as replacements for cow’s milk formulas. When infants react to cow’s milk formulas, hydrolysed milk formulas, Nutramigen and Pregestamil, are usually tried. Alimental and Neocate formulas are also available.
Mothers often contact us through the internet asking for help feeding infants who do not tolerate any of the “hypoallergenic” formulas that are readily available. There are infants who develop symptoms from all formulas. For these hypersensitive babies, an elemental formula such as Alpha ENF can be helpful to increase the nutrient intake when food choices are limited. You can establish tolerance by slow gradual introduction of the formula. Feeding sick infants can be a demanding task and professional supervision is always recommended. Just as a guideline, you can begin by mixing one teaspoon of ENF in about once cup of water, rice milk or any juice that is tolerated and offer this 3 times a day for a few days. If the child tolerates the introductory dose, more formula can added and the intake volume increased slowly. Alpha ENF is designed to provide all the vitamins and minerals at adult RNI values with 300 grams per day.
The optimal method of determining the correct dose for formula is to estimate the nutrient intake needs of the infant and then calculate the amount of food and formula required. Vegetable oil can be added to the ENF mix to increase the fat content of the diet in the range of 1 to 3 teaspoons per day mixed with the formula. A blend of half olive oil and half canola oil provides good fatty acid composition. A common initial effect of the ENF formula is to stimulate contractions of the stomach and small intestine. This effect subsides with use and can be reduced by diluting the formula with more water. The most common is to feed an infant concentrated formula and not offer enough water. Extra water can be added to the formula or taken between formula feedings. The infant should have frequent urination with substantial volume of slightly colored urine. If urine volume decreases and the color becomes darker yellow, the infant needs more water.