Treatments for Allergic Colitis in Children

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Contact the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

  • 1-617-355-6058

Most of the time, when an infant has blood in his stool, it's caused by a milk allergy. This is very treatable: We simply have the mother go on a dairy-free diet (if she's breastfeeding) or switch 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, we recommend that a nursing mother avoid soy as well as dairy (or use a soy-free formula). Many moms feel nervous about this, but our registered dieticians provide lots of suggestions about how to make this as easy as possible.

Keep in mind that even if your baby is no longer ingesting the proteins that are causing reactions in his intestine, his intestines still need to heal. That's why you may continue to notice blood in his 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. He may also seem to be putting on weight, which is also 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 about how to feed your baby with allergic colitis as instructed, she may still become irritable. This doesn't mean that her allergic reactions are back.

Medication can help your baby's reflux until he outgrows it. This usually happens by the time he can sit up by himself, around the time he's 7 months old.

Follow up

Generally, we see children with allergic colitis twice after their diagnosis, to monitor their weight and nutritional intake:

  • when the baby is starting solid foods, and again around 11 months
  • when your baby is around 11 months old, and it's time to do a milk trial to see if he's outgrown the allergy.
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