Cow milk formula is one of the most commonly used formulas for infants. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends this type of iron-fortified formula if breastfeeding is not an option. It's created from the proteins of cow's milk. The protein is then altered so it's easier to digest for babies. (Until children reach age 1, their body can't handle the high levels of protein, sodium, and potassium in cow's milk, according to the AAP.
) Cow milk formula is most similar to breast milk and is often touted for its good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You can buy it ready-made or in powder form that needs to be mixed with water. Though the majority of babies thrive on this type of formula, some infants will do better on a different type. If your baby spits up one or two times from this formula, however, don't automatically switch to an alternative like soy infant formula, say experts.
Instead, talk to your pediatrician. Spitting up may not mean your child can't tolerate cow milk formula. Symptoms of an Allergy to Cow's Milk About two to three percent of babies do have a cow's milk allergy, which occurs when the infant's immune system reacts poorly to the proteins in cow's milk. It can develop in breastfed as well as formula-fed infants and many children will outgrow the allergy.
Symptoms of a milk allergy in infants include: Frequent spitting up Vomiting Colic-like symptoms, which may include excessive crying and irritability after feedings Diarrhea Blood in stool Lack of weight gain Hives A scaly skin rash Coughing or wheezing Watery eyes and stuffy nose Trouble breathing and swelling of mouth and throat Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction It's also important to note that a milk allergy is not the same thing as milk tolerance or lactose intolerance, which occurs when a breastfed or formula-fed baby can't digest the sugar in cow's milk (lactose).
Alternatives to Cow Milk Formula If your baby can't tolerate the proteins in cow's milk, there are plenty of options. Where to Go From Here Shopping for baby formula is never easy. Of course, your first step should be to talk to your pediatrician about the right options for your infant. These articles will also help you make an informed decision:See Also: Cow And Gate Hungrier Baby Milk
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May 29, 2012 -- Soy and cow's milk-based baby formulas may offer similar developmental benefits for baby. But a new study confirms breast milk still is the best. Researchers found no differences in behavioral development, such as language and other thinking-related skills, between infants fed soy formula or milk formula during the first year of life. Breastfed babies, however, had a slight advantage.
"Although all three diet groups scored within the established norms in the behavioral testing, BF [breastfed] infants scored slightly better than formula-fed infants," researcher Aline Andres, PhD, of Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Ark., and colleagues write in Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk first as the ideal source of nutrition for infants, followed by milk and soy formulas as the second and third choices, respectively.
Researchers say about two-thirds of U.S. infants were breastfed as newborns in 2008, but nearly three-fourths of them were transitioned to baby formula by age 6 months. Overall, about 20% of infants in the U.S. are fed soy protein-based formulas during the first year of life. Several studies have shown that the growth and physical development of infants fed soy formula is similar to that of infants fed milk-based formulas.
But researchers say concerns have been raised about the isoflavone content of soy protein-based formulas. Isoflavones are estrogen-like compounds found in plants, which some have suggested may have effects on the brain and nervous system development. Small Differences, Breast Milk Best In this study, researchers compared the development of 391 healthy infants fed breast milk, milk-based baby formula, or soy-based baby formula.
The infants were followed for one year from birth and tested every three months. The results showed no differences between soy formula and milk formula-fed infants on all developmental tests. Breastfed infants, however, had an advantage over formula-fed infants in three different developmental areas: Mental development: Breastfed infants scored slightly higher on the Mental Development Index at 6 and 12 months compared with formula-fed infants.
Psychomotor skills: Infants fed breast milk also had higher scores on motion skills tests at 6 months than infants fed soy formula. Language skills: Breastfed infants had slightly higher scores on the Preschool Language Scale-3 than milk-based formula-fed infants at 3 and 6 months. Researchers say it is important to point out that differences between breastfed and formula-fed infants were quite small after adjusting for other factors like being small for gestational age, etc.
They say the infants involved in this study will also be followed until age 6 years to see if there are any long-term developmental differences. Sources SOURCE: Andres, A. Pediatrics, June 2012. © 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.