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Newborn Food Allergies

A friend of mine recently brought her new
son – born seven weeks early, and fresh from the NICU –
home amidst much joy and celebration. The celebration was
short-lived when she had to return to the hospital a few days later
because of blood in his stool. After a few tests, they determined
the cause: a dairy allergy.

Newborn food allergies are surprisingly common, though many people
don’t know about them. Babies subsist wholly on breastmilk or
formula, of course, but we all know how much can be passed through
breastmilk to a baby, and foods that may cause allergies are no
exception. Something like ninety percent of newborn
“colic” is caused by a food allergy, usually a reaction
to dairy or soy.

In most cases, the allergy isn’t
life-threatening, but can show up in some rather unattractive ways:
usually, blood in the poop or a thick, mucous-y, snot-like poop.
Many first-time parents don’t realize this is different than
newborn poop should look since Lord knows that yellow seedy poop
ain’t like nuthin’ you’ve ever seen before
anyway. So when the baby begins screaming and crying right around
two or three weeks ALL THE TIME, people shrug and say,

Maddie had a dairy allergy as a baby, and we had a tough time
pinning it down at first; for one, she also had infant reflux, and
so was crying kinda all. The. Time. For another, no one told me
that going off of milk and cheese for a couple days isn’t
enough to test and see if your baby’s allergic to dairy; it
takes TWO WEEKS for the dairy proteins to fully leave your body, so
you have to give up dairy for two weeks before you’ll see a
huge difference. The other big allergy food, soy, is the same way.

My friend found out she had to give up dairy and shrugged, as if to
say, “Big deal. So no ice cream.” But people
don’t realize that dairy protein is in EVERYTHING, from Cool
Whip (Non-Dairy, my ass) to artificial creamer (ditto). See, if
you’ve got to ditch dairy, you’ve got to drop all those
secretive little dairy proteins they put in everything, so
it’s not enough to simply buy Lactose-Free. You need to scour
the labels and wipe out anything with “Casein” or
“Whey” in them. And trust me, that’s a huge list.

And on the subject of soy, it doesn’t get much better,
because if dairy’s hard to wipe out, soy is just as
difficult. My girlfriend Abby had to ditch soy while nursing her
younger son, and went into shock when she discovered that every bar
of chocolate has soy lecithin in it as a stabilizer. I’m
tellin’ ya, you’ve got to really love your baby to give
up chocolate for him.

So if you’ve got a newborn with bloody poop, stringy,
mucous-filled poop, or one who is simply screaming nonstop, talk to
your pediatrician about food allergies. They’ve got
dairy-free and soy-free formula out there if you are on formula, or
your pediatrician can help you with an elimination diet to figure
out what’s causing the reaction. Some pediatricians will
hurry the process by having you use dairy-free formula right away,
since that takes less time than waiting the two weeks. But in any
case, you should be able to get it figured out and have your little
guy or girl feeling much more comfortable soon.

If only there was a solution for the yellow seedy stool.


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