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Breast Feeding

Baby fussy from breastmilk but not formula?

03/23/2007

Question:

My son is 5 weeks old and was born at 8 pounds. He is now somewhere in the 11 pound range. He is a guzzzler!

Yet it is perpelexing that when I feed him breastmilk he fusses and appears collici--we have tried gas drops and they didn`t work--so we have ruled that out.

However, I experimented with formula and he guzzles that down as well and he sleeps--no signs of fusiness--at all.

I know that breastfeeding is better for a child but what I can do to still breastfeed my child and calm his fusiness???

Answer:

The most common cause of abdominal pain and gassiness in the breast fed baby is cow milk intolerance.

The bovine protein that the mother drinks passes directly across her bowel wall and travels to the breast via the blood stream.

If you drink milk and eat cheese, I would strongly suspect your baby is allergic, or intolerant because of bowel immaturity, to the protein in the milk/cheese that you are ingesting. If you do not take any dairy at all, there may be another allergen, but cow milk is by far the most common offender.

It takes 3 to 5 weeks to completely rid your breast tissue of this foreign protein. Therefore, it means being patient and perseverant with the discontinuation of ALL dairy products and any foods that contain casein or whey or “milk solids”. Your baby should start feeling better gradually after just a few days, and completely well by 3 to 5 weeks depending on how much dairy you consume per day.

Alternately, you might pump your milk and save it for later, once his bowel has matured beyond 6 months. If he is not truly allergic to the protein, he may be able to tolerate your saved milk by then.

Formula is cooked and often is tolerated because the bovine protein has been denatured.

Or you may be giving your baby a soy formula, which is usually well tolerated, but neither is as good for him as breast milk.

Please feel free to write again if you have any further questions.

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