Vomitting and bleeding after infant formula milk allergy

Tallin Ang found out that her daughter, Amelie, had a rare type of jaundice associated with breastfeeding, called breast milk jaundice, soon after she gave birth. Keen to find out what to do about it, Tallin read some online forums, and learned that some mothers saw their babies’ bilirubin levels drop after they stopped breastfeeding temporarily. She decided to do the same and gave her baby infant formula milk.

However, when Amelie vomitted every single bottle of milk within 15 minutes of feeding throughout the day, Tallin sensed something was wrong. The 36-year-old communications professional then noticed blood in her newborn daughter’s stools, and rushed to the doctor.

After being warded for several nights, tests revealed that the blood in the stools wasn't due to internal bleeding. It was instead due to an allergic reaction to infant formula milk.

“My husband, our six year old son and I don't have any food allergies. So I couldn’t place where our daughter’s allergy came from,” she said.

Not easy to confirm other food allergies in baby

The likelihood of getting a false negative allergy test result was high when a baby is under six months old, so it was hard to confirm if her child had any other food allergies. Still, the lack of confirmation didn’t stop Tallin from introducing Amelie to a variety of foods as she grew up.

“It’s important to me that my children are not picky eaters later in life, so I didn’t impose any dietary restrictions on them,” she explained.

More food allergies.. and tolerances discovered

It was through trial and error that Tallin learned what her daughter could or could not have. For example, when she was six months old, her baby vomitted within half hour of drinking a different brand of infant milk formula and developed fever and rashes throughout her body. Test results later revealed that her daughter was allergic to cow’s milk and possibly, egg whites.

When her daughter was 11 months old, Tallin found out that dried scallops and eggs led to her daughter breaking out in rashes. However, between the age of 11 months and a year, when she was weaning off breast milk, she discovered that her daughter could take a new brand of infant milk formula. After 1 year, her child’s cow’s milk allergy turned out to be negative but egg white was confirmed as an allergy.

At about 16 months old, Tallin encouraged Amelie to have a positive relationship with food by continually exposing her to small amounts of new foods such as vegetables, and even foods such as cakes and breads, which contain eggs that are cooked at high temperatures.

Today, at three and a half years old, Amelie is a food lover with a huge appetite. Tallin still avoids giving her food with eggs that are not fully cooked as her recent allergy tests still show a positive allergic reaction to egg whites. Amelie eats almost everything else, and Tallin remains alert to look out for bad reactions.

Tallin’s best 4 tips for new mothers or mums with children who have food allergies

  1. Start on different foods to expand your child’s repertoire (of food). Test with little portions and monitor if his/her body is taking it well. If so, increase the food portion and gradually add it to his/her menu. Keep trying even when your child is sometimes reluctant to try new foods due to discomfort.
  2. Keep monitoring for rashes when an allergic reaction gets bad. Also, monitor your child’s breathing. If your child is breathless, that is a clear sign that there is swelling in the throat.
  3. Trust your gut. Bring your child to the doctor if allergic symptoms persist.
  4. Keep doctors informed. I actively let Amelie’s doctors know of her allergies, especially when she goes for immunisations. Some of the immunisations contain eggs so it’s important to let them know so they can assess if she is suitable for the jab, or if precautions need to be taken.
Ref: N18