Allergic Colitis | Diagnosis & Treatment

 

How is allergic colitis diagnosed?

If your baby is extremely irritable, and you notice vomiting and gassiness, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see a pediatrician. The doctor will check for blood in your baby’s stool. This might be blood that can only be seen through a microscope. If blood is found, the symptoms are most likely caused by an allergic reaction.

 

What are the treatment options for allergic colitis?

Most of the time, when an infant has blood in the stool, it's caused by a milk allergy, which is very treatable. The mother is placed on a dairy-free diet (if she's breast-feeding) or the baby is switched to a hypoallergenic formula. It takes about 72 hours for the mother's breast milk to become free of milk protein, so until you're ready to nurse again, your baby will be given a hypoallergenic formula.

Roughly 30 percent of babies who are allergic to cow's milk protein are also allergic to soy protein, so if your baby's symptoms don't clear up, it is recommended that a nursing mother avoid soy as well as dairy (or use a soy-free formula).

Keep in mind, even if your baby is no longer ingesting the proteins that are causing reactions in the intestine, the intestines still need to heal. That's why you may continue to notice blood in the stool for three to four weeks after starting a milk/soy-free diet. But you should notice that your infant seems to be feeling better — less irritable and less reluctant to feed — and also may be putting on weight, which is a good sign.

Between ages 4 and 6 months, many babies go through a period of reflux (spitting up food), but babies with allergic colitis may have an especially hard time with reflux. This means that even though you are following a dietitian's recommendations, your baby may still become irritable. This doesn't necessarily mean that the allergic reactions are back. Medication can help reflux until your baby outgrows it, usually around 7 months old.