Many parents with children suffering from food allergies and eczema are left wondering which formula to give their child. A common question is regarding Nutramigen vs Elecare. This article will discuss what to start with and how to decide between the two. They are both excellent formulas and both are considered hypoallergenic formulas.
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What is Nutramigen?
Nutramigen LGG is a hypoallergenic formula for infants 0-12 months diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy. The protein source is extensively hydrolyzed cow’s milk and contains probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG). It is a formula used for special medical purposes. Nutramigen LGG has several benefits including fast colic relief (crying) due to cow’s milk allergy in 90% of infants within 48 hours. Also, this formula can help babies consume regular milk proteins as early as 6 months. Finally, Nutramigen can reduce incidence of allergies in infants as they grow, including asthma and eczema. Other features include DHA for brain development, probiotics for gut and digestive health, and no artificial growth hormones.
What is EleCare?
EleCare is an amino acid formula. Basically, the cow’s milk protein is broken down to the smallest unit possible, which are amino acids. This is a hypoallergenic and nutritionally complete amino acid-based formula for infants who cannot tolerate regular cow’s milk formula or hydrolyzed protein, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum. The nutrition component is from 100% amino acids and it also has DHA/ARA (fatty acid found in breast milk) that is important in brain and eye development as well. This formula can help with severe food allergy symptoms and various gut and digestion issues related to food allergies.
Which formula is right for your child?
Choosing the right formula can be a bit of trial and error. For children who have food allergies and eczema, trying an extensively hydrolyzed formula such as Nutramigen or Alimentum is a good place to start. If allergy symptoms are poorly controlled, then trying an amino acid based formula such as EleCare is the way to go. Just remember to check that the formula is fortified with iron. Low-iron formulas are nutritionally inadequate. Also make sure the infant formula is not expired, the container is properly sealed and in good condition. Also, check for no leaks, puffy ends, or rust spots on the container.
Which formula is best for eczema and food allergies?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommend hypoallergenic formulas, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum. These are the recommended formulas when it comes to feeding babies with eczema and food allergies. Hypoallergenic formulas have extensively hydrolyzed proteins (i.e. proteins are broken down into smaller, digestible pieces) that should not result in an allergic reaction. It does this by causing minimal antibody production against cow’s milk proteins. Many infants fed with these hypoallergenic formulas also have less chances of developing atopic dermatitis. In some cases where symptoms still persist despite using hypoallergenic formulas, a nonallergenic amino acid-based formula (EleCare or Neocate) is known to be effective in these cases. Click here to read about the best formulas for eczema.
Why is Elecare more expensive than Nutramigen?
The reason why EleCare is more expensive than Nutramigen is because it takes more effort to create amino acids rather than breaking down proteins into smaller parts. Nutramigen uses extensively hydrolyzed cow’s milk for its formula. EleCare is more expensive as it uses amino-acids and not hydrolyzed cow’s milk protein.
Are these formulas considered hypoallergenic?
Yes, Nutramigen and Elecare (even Alimentum and Neocate) infant milk formulas are clinically tested and considered to be hypoallergenic. Regardless, you should still observe your babies for a reaction when you give them something new.
When should a baby take Nutramigen vs Elecare?
Many health organizations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatricians, recommend that all babies should be breastfed for the first six months after birth. However, feeding with formula is another option, whether it be due to a personal reason or medical reason or both. In general, children with food allergies or eczema may try Nutramigen or Elecare.
When should I switch from Nutramigen to Elecare?
You may consider switching if your child does not seem to tolerate Nutramigen or if their symptoms of colic or eczema are not improving while on Nutramigen.
What is the difference between hydrolyzed versus elemental formula?
Hydrolyzed or extensively hydrolyzed formulas (EHFs) are infant formulas with protein derived from cow’s milk (bovine casein as its main protein) or whey. On the other hand, elemental formulas are made of amino acids, which are the building block for proteins. They are for babies who cannot tolerate extensively hydrolyzed formula due to cow’s milk allergies.
What is the difference between Nutramigen vs Elecare?
Nutramigen is made from cow’s milk. Elecare is made from synthesized amino acids and sometimes plant sugars. Nutramigen is an extensively hydrolyzed formula which means that its protein source is derived from cow’s milk and broken down. Elecare is an elemental formula which means that the formula is made of amino acids. Both are hypoallergenic but Elecare is is given to babies who are allergic to extensively hydrolyzed formulas like Nutramigen.
Are Nutramigen and Elecare derived from cow’s milk?
Nutramigen is derived from cow’s milk. Elecare seems to not be from cow’s milk. Upon extensive research, I found that amino acid formula such as Elecare and Neocate derive their amino acid synthetically or from plant sugars.
Are there side effects with Nutramigen or Elecare?
Some things you might see when changing formulas from regular to Nutramigen or Nutramigen to Elecare is changes in stool pattern, gas, and/or spitting up. Some may also experience frequent and loose stools which are normal especially during the initial days of starting a new formula. Color changes (greenish) are also expected for babies on iron-fortified formula. You should also observe for any skin changes (rash, pruritus, hives) as allergic reactions can happen when introducing new formula to babies.
How long can a baby stay on Nutramigen or Elecare?
It is generally recommend to give formula until 12 months of age and move on to cow’s milk after that. However, there are some cases where babies take formula past 12 months of age until toddler age.
Is Nutramigen safe for newborns?
Yes, Nutramigen is safe for infants 0- 12 months of age.
I hope this article helps you decide on Nutramigen vs Elecare. Both are excellent brands and formulas for children with food allergies and eczema. It is a bit of trial and error to figure out what is best for your child. If you are just starting, I would recommend starting with an extensively hydrolyzed formula such as Nutramigen.
If this does not work well for your child, then consider an elemental formula made from amino acid only such as Elecare. Click here for other milk options for eczema besides formulas.