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How Do I Choose the Best Baby Formula for Galactosemia?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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To choose the best baby formula for galactosemia, parents can try different types of formula on their children as long as they do not contain any milk proteins or milk sugars. These formulas are typically based on soy or use Nutramigen, a specially developed type of protein that is easy for infants to digest. Parents should consult with their pediatricians and watch their baby closely during his first few weeks on a new formula to determine the brand that works best with his digestive needs.

Galactosemia is a rare genetic disorder that affects individuals from birth. It prevents the body from metabolizing galactose, a type of sugar found in all dairy products, into glucose, so that it can be used by the body for energy. As the galactose builds in the blood stream of the affected person, it acts as a poison, toxifying the body. Side effects of galactosemia can include cataracts, an enlarged liver, kidney failure, and permanent brain damage. In many countries, doctors screen all newborns born in hospitals for this disorder immediately after birth as part of a standard series of blood tests.

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Children born with this disorder require a specialized formula for galactosemia. They cannot ingest breast milk or standard formula, which is typically made from lactose-containing dairy products. Once solid foods are introduced into the diet, parents must be careful to avoid purchasing any foods which have been made using milk products, milk proteins, or products containing lactose to avoid triggering their child's intolerance.

One type of commonly used formula for galactosemia newborns is one that is made from soy products. These formulas use soy proteins, rather than milk proteins, to provide the baby with all of the nutrients that he will need during his first year of life. Additional nutrients can include vitamins A, D, K, and E, as well as vital minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. They are both milk free and lactose free, and are usually easier for babies to digest than other types of milk based formulas. They are also designed to reduce the amount of gas an infant experiences as a byproduct of digestion, and tend to ease fussiness after a meal.

Children who are allergic to soy products may not be able to digest a soy based formula any easier than a milk based formula. In such situations, doctors frequently recommend a product known as Nutramigen®. This type of formula for galactosemia is made from hydrolyzed proteins, which are easier to digest than soy or milk proteins. It also contains probiotics, which increase the amount of healthy bacteria present in a newborn's stomach and intestinal lining.

It is not usually possible to determine which type of formula for galactosemia will work best with a newborn's digestion. Doctors often recommend one over another to their patients, based on their personal preferences and experience working with other children with this disorder. Parents may try one type of formula, only to discover their child experiences an allergic reaction to it, and must then switch to another type until the reaction dissipates. This type of trial and error is typically the best method for determining which formula is best for each child.

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