Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Breast Feeding

Milk allergy or just colic

01/24/2007

Question:

my daughter is 2 months old. She has always been fussy after every feeding and cries for about 3 hours a day. I have tried feeding her from one breast and having her empty it before I switch to the next one. After that trial she is still fussy,very gassy,and no changes. She has mucus in her stools, but is gaining weight very well. Should I take milk out of my diet? Does it sound like she is lactose intolerant? Even though she has great weight gain and no blood in her stools? The doctor just says she collic!!

Answer:

"Colic" is a general term for spasmodic discomfort.

The challenge is to figure out what is causing the discomfort.

In a breastfed baby, the most common cause is something in the maternal diet.

The most common offender is cow milk protein, which is a bowel irritant in many young infants, and passes into breast milk undenatured.

The mucous in the stools is evidence that something is irritating her bowels. With continued exposure to the irritant, the stools may become bloody. The cow milk protein may become (or is already) an antigen for the baby, meaning that she is developing (or has) a milk allergy.

This can lead to secondary lactose intolerance, but is not the primary cause of the problem.

With many infants this allergy or sensitivity to cow milk protein is outgrown by about a year of age, but not all, especially if there is a family history of cow milk allergy in close adult relatives.

It would be most advisable to take all cow milk protein out of your diet, including all cheese, yogurt, and products containing casein or whey.

Reading labels is important.

It is also important to know that, according to studies, it will take 3 to 5 weeks, depending on how heavy a cow milk protein intake you now have, for all of this protein to be out of your breast tissue.

Therefore, you can expect a slow improvement over that period, and it is important to persevere with the elimination of cow milk protein as completely as possible.

If you are worried about your calcium requirement, you can take a calcium supplement or drink soy milk (this is tolerated about 86% of the time), and/or calcium-fortified orange juice.

Best wishes for continued successful breastfeeding and a comfortable, happy baby.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati