Allergic colitis: What are the causes in infants?

Allergic colitis is brought about by an immune response to the proteins in the diet of the infant. Most of the common proteins that instigate the condition are present in soy, cow and breast milk.

The condition mainly occurs in infants and can cause blood-streaked stool, appetite loss, diarrhea and vomiting. If a child is suspected with the condition, seek immediate medical care.

Immune system

It is important to note that allergic colitis typically develops during the initial 2 months of life. A child is more prone to the condition due to the immature immune system.


The condition mainly occurs in infants and can cause blood-streaked stool, appetite loss, diarrhea and vomiting.

Generally, the immune system responds only to harmful microbes. Nevertheless, if the child has allergic colitis, the immune system wrongly identifies the milk proteins as a threat and attacks them.

Intake of protein

A baby is also at risk due to the intake of milk and presence of milk proteins in formula or breast milk. Since infants have immature immune systems, those with the condition might responds to the proteins in foreign substances to which they were abruptly exposed to after birth.

In case the child with allergic colitis continues to ingest milk proteins, the intestines might gradually become irritated and inflamed, resulting to miniature ulcerations in the colon and bleeding.

Permeability of the intestines

The infant might also have amplified intestinal permeability that is often linked with an undeveloped GI tract, intestinal inflammatory diseases and malnutrition.

In case the child is suffering from this condition, the intestines become porous that even the whole proteins can move into the bloodstream and instigate allergic colitis. Generally, the digestive system degenerates the proteins into amino acids or small-sized peptide chains that are absorbed by the body. These are not likely to instigate a reaction than the intact ones.

Management of allergic colitis

Once a child has been analyzed with allergic colitis, the treatment starts by eliminating all food sources that trigger the allergy from the diet. The doctor might suggest replacing the existing formula with a special, hypoallergenic or protein hydrolysate formulation that includes broken-down proteins to ease the strain on the digestive system.

If any of these formulas work, the child might require an amino acid-based formula. If breastfeeding, the child might show improvement if cow’s milk, fish, soy and wheat from the diet are removed. This will allow the baby to continue to breastfeed if he/she is gaining weight and thriving.


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