Health Buzz: Type of Formula Affects Babies' Weight

Managing food allergies less confusing with new guidelines; how to beat the holiday blues.


Cow's-Milk Formula May Cause Babies' Faster Weight Gain

If a formula-fed baby gains too much weight too quickly, the culprit could be in the bottle, according to a study published Monday in Pediatrics. Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia split 59 mothers with two-week-old infants into two groups. Thirty-five women gave their babies a typical cow's-milk formula. The 24 mothers in the other group gave their infants protein hydrolysate formula. This type contains predigested protein and is generally used when a baby can't digest the proteins in milk- or soy-based formulas. At 7 months, the lengths of the infants in both groups were similar, but the babies on the cow's-milk formula weighed about two pounds more, and those on the protein hydrolysate formula had gained weight at about the same rate as breast-fed babies. The likely explanation is that the babies on protein hydrolysate felt full sooner because of the way the predigested protein acts in the digestive tract. "All formulas are not alike," study author Julie Mennella said in a news statement. "These two formulas have the same amount of calories, but differ considerably in terms of how they influence infant growth." Gaining weight too rapidly during the first year of life is worrisome, the researchers say, because it can increase babies' risk of later becoming obese or developing diabetes.

  • How to Avoid Excess Weight Gain During Pregnancy
  • How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby
  • Managing Food Allergies Less Confusing With New Guidelines

    Food allergies are common, affecting 5 percent of all children. But they're often hard for doctors to diagnose and are even harder for families to manage, writes U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute. So the federal government has stepped up to help, releasing its first-ever comprehensive guidelines for food allergy diagnosis and management. The new guidelines, released in early December by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, give doctors and nurses 43 recommendations.

    One key pointer is to recognize the difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies spark an inappropriate response from the body's immune system, and are most common with eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat. Intolerances to lactose, gluten, MSG, and sulfites in wine and other foods may be uncomfortable, but they're not allergies. Avoidance helps with both, of course, but food allergies can be life-threatening.

    The recommendations also warn about using allergy tests inappropriately. The new standards ask doctors to first get a history of the patient's symptoms and then ask the patient to eliminate the suspect food from his diet. The next step, if it's still unclear what's going on, would be a skin prick test, in which tiny amounts of the suspect allergen are injected under the skin. If welts form, it's an allergy. A blood test, which looks for antibodies produced by the body in response to allergens, can be used instead. The last option is an oral food challenge, in which the child eats the suspect food while being watched by a health professional. Do not try this at home; a doctor or nurse needs to be on hand in case the food sparks a severe reaction. [Read more: Managing Food Allergies Now Less Confusing With New Guidelines.]

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    • 9 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues

      The holidays magnify everything. They can make folks feel very, very good. They can also make them feel very, very bad. You may be fine with your single status the rest of the year, if every so often you do wish it was otherwise. But when the family gets together, multiple repetitions of, "So why aren't you married yet?" can turn anybody sour. A job that, like most, occasionally gets a little boring becomes mindless drudgery compared to the electrifying careers your same-aged cousin and much younger niece rhapsodize about. But you don't have to extend a holiday invitation to the blues, writes U.S. News's Kurtis Hiatt. Experts have solid advice to fend them off.