Allergic Colitis

Allergic colitis is a condition in which your baby’s immune system overreacts to the proteins found in cow’s milk, leading to inflammation and ulcerations (tiny breaks in the skin) in the colon. 

Babies differ in how sensitive they are to milk. Some have very few symptoms, and others might experience blood in the stools if a breast-feeding mother has even a small splash of milk in her morning coffee.

Allergic colitis isn’t uncommon — it affects between two and 3 percent of infants. Babies from families with a history of food allergiesasthma  or environmental allergies seem to have a slightly higher risk of developing the condition.

Allergic colitis can make eating very uncomfortable for a baby, so they may not get the nutrition they need. In extremely rare cases, the intestine may get so swollen that food is unable to pass through it, or the lining of the intestine may become so inflamed that it’s unable to absorb nutrients. If this is the case with your baby, they may need to be fed intravenously (through an IV) until the intestine has had time to heal. 

How we care for allergic colitis

The Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition has been treating children with GI conditions, like allergic colitis, for more than 65 years, and we’ve successfully cared for some of the most complex cases.

Our specialty programs offer innovative care not available at other hospitals for children with chronic gastrointestinal and nutritional problems. We offer a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and have a state-of-the-art endoscopy and motility unit.