After searching endlessly on the web and not being able to find anything on the subject, I decided to write a blog post about how my daughter had an allergic reaction to the hypoallergenic formula Alimentum.
My milk supply dropped after exclusively breast-feeding “successfully” for almost two months. (I say “successfully” rather reluctantly because it was anything but successful. I will write another post on My Nursing Story soon.) I was forced to give my baby formula despite my MANY objections. She was drinking Similac Advanced and was doing okay except for the fact that she had silent acid reflux very badly. She would choke on her own acid and wheeze and cough. It was absolutely terrifying putting her in her car seat because the position of the seat made the reflux worse. I couldn’t drive anywhere alone for those first few months. Someone had to be with her at all times in the back seat of the car to make sure she didn’t choke. Her pediatrician thought it would be best to try her on a gentle formula to see if the broken down the milk protein would help the reflux so next we tried Enfamil gentlease.
Right away I noticed my daughter straining, was gassy, she cried constantly and had trouble going poop. Her poop was grayish green and thicker than peanut butter. It was not quite constipation but it was definitely hard to pass and it was very evident every time my daughter went to the bathroom that she was extremely uncomfortable. I told my pediatrician about the troubles that my daughter had with constipation and the strange poop and she said that it was normal and that she was colicky. She said my daughter would need a few days to adjust to the new formula and she was confident that it would help her reflux. I was very frustrated because I knew that this very thick grey-green poop was not normal. I also knew that she was not JUST colicky. I knew something was wrong.
We continued on the formula until my daughter’s two-month check up visit. I told the pediatrician that the formula she had been on for two weeks had not changed any of her symptoms. The doctor at that point seemed concerned and said that she should’ve gotten used to the new formula by now and suggested that we go on a hypoallergenic formula such as Alimentum. I was very frustrated with this because Alimentum is so expensive! (Don’t even get me started on WIC not being able to help provide this expensive formula.) She also wanted us to take my daughter to a GI specialist because my daughter’s reflux wasn’t improving.
So that very day we gave my daughter some Alimentum. Despite it’s disgusting smell, my daughter drank it right up! (As she does with just about anything.) Within the first day of giving my daughter Alimentum she started having big green mucous poop! It looked like someone blew their nose in a diaper, it was that gross! I told my husband and he said to keep an eye on it, that maybe it would get better.
When my daughter woke up for her 5am feed, I noticed that her face seemed a little rashy. I pulled off her shirt and realized that it was all over her body! I knew it had to be from the formula. As the day went on, the rash only got worse, more red and raised. My poor daughter cried all day. Not only did the formula not help her acid reflux, it made it worse! My daughter started coughing and coughed up mucus! Of course this all happened over a holiday weekend and we could not get into see her pediatrician. I was very concerned. We did not know what to do.
So I jumped on Dr. Google and read that some babies had a bad reaction to powdered Alimentum. This is because the main ingredient is corn and some babies are sensitive to corn. This made a lot of sense that she would have a reaction to corn. Earlier when I was exclusively breastfeeding her, I was on an elimination diet to see if we could help her reflux. Corn and corn products were one of the MANY things I cut out. When we put her on the formula I was concerned a little about how much corn was in the formula but I did it anyways because that’s what the pediatrician said. I continued to read and found out that Alimentum Ready-to-Feed was the only formula on the market that didn’t contain corn! (Alimentum ready to feed is a pre-made liquid that you can purchase. Its ingredients are nearly identical to the Alimentum powdered minus the corn.) I was upset that Alimentum was still our only choice, but I new we needed to do something.
My husband went out and bought some Read To Feed Alimentum formula and we gave it to my daughter on the next feed. We continued to give her the Ready To Feed the rest of the day and by morning her rash was nearly gone. I called the pediatrician to see if we could get in, talk about the reaction, talk about the formula, and possibly see if we could get a medial document to give to WIC for the Alimentum and the doctor’s assistant told us that the pediatrician had referred us to a GI specialist at the last visit and told us to follow up with them. I was FURIOUS. I explained that we wouldn’t be able to get into the specialist for an entire month and we needed help now. She told me she would call me back. And there’s a call I’m still waiting for. Needless to say we switched pediatricians!
We continued feeding my daughter Alimentum RTF. Her rash went away, her breathing improved, but she still had mucus in her poop. We took her to get a food sensitivity test and we discovered that she was severely sensitive to corn and cow dairy. Since the Alimentum is still derived from milk, we figured that’s what was causing the problems with the poop.
We made an appointment with a naturopath pediatrician to figure out if we needed to switch to homemade goats milk formula. At that point we were willing to do whatever would work. We just wanted this little girl to eat! It had been such a rough start between her tongue tie, my milk dropping, her allergies…the list went on and on. The doctor did suggest having my daughter drink a goat milk formula and gave us the recipe for it. We switched and instantly everything improved! Her reflux went away entirely and so did the mysterious mucous. We didn’t have to put her on reflux medication and rice cereal as the GI specialist suggested. Everything resolved on its own because of the milk. She is now a happy 22 month old who drinks straight goat milk and loves it. We don’t know what we would have done without that naturopath and the goat milk.
I just want to encourage any mamas out there: if you feel that something isn’t right, fight until you figure it out. Go to a doctor that will listen. You know what’s best for your baby. I believe in you!