If you're dealing with severe colic, or if your baby is allergic to both milk and soy protein, a hypoallergenic formula like Nutramigen or Alimentum may be necessary. Don't be overwhelmed or confused when deciding on a formula brand, though. Differences between leading hypoallergenic formulas are minor. It's always a good idea to consult your baby's pediatrician before making formula changes.
How Do Hypoallergenic Formulas Work?
Nutramigen and Alimentum are examples of extensively hydrolyzed formulas and are sometimes referred to as hypoallergenic or predigested formulas. They are easier for babies to digest because the protein in the formula is broken down into amino acids, allowing for easier absorption. Extensively hydrolyzed formulas are typically prescribed for infants with severe colic or eczema, those with milk protein allergy, and premature infants or those who have problems absorbing certain nutrients. At least 90 percent of infants with food allergies will benefit from a hypoallergenic formula, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Nutramigen vs. Alimentum
Alimentum and Nutramigen are both marketed toward babies who have a sensitivity or allergy to cow's milk protein resulting in colic or other symptoms. Both formulas are very similar, and both are gluten- and lactose-free and contain DHA and ARA to support eye and brain development. Nutramigen contains twice as much DHA as Alimentum, at 17 mg per 100 calories versus 8 mg per 100 calories. Alimentum's ready-to-feed formula is free of corn, while Nutramigen contains corn syrup solids and modified corn starch. Both formulas are fortified with iron.
The cost of Nutramigen and Alimentum varies, depending on the formulation, but both tend to be considerably more expensive than standard infant formulas. Ready-to-use products are more expensive than powdered or liquid concentrate. Some insurance companies offer reimbursement when extensively hydrolyzed formulas are prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition.
Formulations and Availability
Both Nutramigen and Alimentum are available throughout the United States in most major pharmacies, grocery stores and large retails stores such as Walmart and Target. Both can be ordered online and are available without a prescription. Nutramigen comes in ready-to-use and liquid concentrate forms, while Alimentum is available as a powder and in ready-to-feed bottles and cans.