What in the heck is MSPI? Well, here’s on journey on how we found out! Nothing like having a newborn and getting used to everything that comes with being a new parent. I didn’t even think of the fact that our precious newborn could come out with some kind of allergy.
Updated March 2020.
What Is MSPI?
What is MSPI, you ask? MSPI stands for milk soy protein intolerance. It is a condition in that happens when a baby cannot digest the proteins found in dairy products and/or soy products.
This is usually a temporary condition. Children usually outgrow this condition by the time they’re 1 years old, some may take up to 3 years of age to outgrow this condition.
MSPI- Milk Soy Protein Intolerance Symptoms
Keep in mind these milk protein intolerance and soy protein intolerance symptoms can vary from baby to baby and depend on severity of the condition.
The trouble with these symptoms and why getting a definitive MSPI diagnosis can be a challenge is, these symptoms can be confused for symptoms of other conditions as well.
Possible symptoms of MSPI Baby:
- Crying and Fussiness
- Gasiness/ Excessive Gas
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Mucous with or without blood in stools
- Reflux/ Excessive Spit Up/ Projectile Vomiting
Our MSPI Diagnosis Journey
One of my friends was pregnant and had her daughter about 4 months before I had Caroline. She had a heck of a time in the beginning.
Eventually, they found out that her daughter was allergic to the cows milk protein (milk or dairy allergy) and had to be put on special formula. The more I discussed this with her, the more I was intrigued and wanted to learn about it.
It didn’t even cross my mind that my daughter would have the same thing.
Fast forward to when Caroline was born. She was a natural at breastfeeding, latched on and ate like a champion for the first two weeks.
Once she hit two weeks, it was like she hit a switch. She became fussy and unhappy all the time. I wondered if it was colic.
She became gassy and just not like what she had been the first two weeks.
Her diapers went from beautiful, textbook normal breastfed diapers to almost neon green, mucous diapers and it was like she had constant diarrhea.
Once she finished eating, it would go right through her and come out so watery. She also started spitting up a lot. Not just like normal baby spit up. She would projectile vomit.
Anytime you laid her in a horizontal position something was bound to come out of her mouth, whether she just finished eating or if she ate over an hour ago.
Ugh, gross! MSPI is not nice.
This made me nervous and I wanted to make sure she was getting proper nutrition and gaining weight like she was supposed to.
With the diarrhea and constant spit up, I was afraid she may get dehydrated too. So I took her in to see her pediatrician who we LOVE!
Anyway, they said it sounds like she has reflux but were hesitant to put her on medication being so young. After discussing everything we ended up trying the medication which helped for a while.
My husband called it the magic medicine because whenever she was having a reflux flare up and we gave it to her, she was like a new baby in such a short amount of time. But, this medicine didn’t help everything.
We still had the bad diapers and crying. After discussing all the symptoms, they suggested that we see a gastroenterologist pediatrician as they suspected we had a cows milk protein allergy issue.
In the mean time, I wanted to continue breastfeeding so the doctor recommended I eliminate dairy from my diet. After a few weeks of eliminating dairy from my diet, I saw a slight improvement in her, but we started seeing blood in her diapers.
This sent my mommy alarm off at high priority. They had tested the diapers in office weeks ago but they were negative for blood. But now, I could see visible blood in her stools.
MOM ALERT, MOM ALERT! It’s visible NOW!
We ended up going to see the pediatric GI doctor. She said it definitely sounded like Caroline was allergic to milk but it also sounded like she might be allergic to soy as well.
There is this, usually, temporary condition called milk and soy protein intolerance.. Also known as MSPI.
Apparently when a baby is intolerant to cows milk, it is often found that they are intolerant to soy as well. The milk and soy protein structures are very similar and it is quite common that babies are being more and more intolerant to them.
So the GI doctor, suggested that I eliminate soy as well from my diet and see if she got any better. She suggested I give it two weeks and if no improvement she would suggest switching to a special formula.
I had already started eliminating soy a couple days prior and it made me realize that soooo many things have either soy and or dairy in them. It is ridiculous!
The doctor checked her diaper in office and it immediately tested positive for blood in the stool again.
Eliminate Dairy and Soy in Diet – An MSPI treatment
Ultimately, the way to “cure” MSPi is to eliminate dairy proteins and soy proteins from your child’s diet.
Breastfeeding and MSPI
So, off I went, dairy and soy free. I had been trying this MSPI diet, where you eliminate ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that contains dairy or soy, but Caroline was not only not improving, she seemed to be getting worse. She was more fussy and not content.
Some research shows it take 2-4 weeks to get dairy and soy proteins out of your system. I knew I needed to try to wait it out until it was out of my system, but, the fact that she was getting worse was making it harder.
Enough is enough. Mommy can’t do it anymore.
Her poor insides were just so uncomfortable. I was seeing increased amounts of blood in her stool and I could only imagine what her insides were feeling like.
It was the hardest emotional challenge that I had faced so far as a mom. I wanted to breastfeed, as I knew that was what was best for her, but in reality switching to formula was what was best for her.
Within days of switching, she was almost a new baby. Her diapers cleared up and she was content again. She was sleeping and eating better and the spit up reduced even more.
Related : Want to learn all the information you can to breastfeed successfully? Check out this e-course called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class from Milkology. You’ll be more prepared to properly, safely and effectively breastfeed your baby with this brilliant e-course.
Another Way to Treat Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance
We originally tried the Similac Alimentum Infant Formula Powder, which she did fine with in the beginning. It’s a hypoallergenic formula that breaks down the dairy and soy proteins at a molecular level that is supposed to help intolerant babies be able to digest this formula, as the proteins that they can’t handle are already broken down, and essentially done for them.
She showed some improvement while on the Alimentum Powder, but, was still showing signs of the soy and dairy intolerance.
After some research and more chats with our Pediatrician, we found out that there were other options. The next one we needed to try was the Similac Alimentum Ready to Feed Formula. When we switched her to that, she improved even more. So, that’s what we used until she outgrew her intolerance.
I learned to find coupons because that stuff is expensive. I joined swap and sell Facebook pages to get it for a slight discount too! That stuff is like liquid GOLD!
Formula feeding can be expensive, especially with hypoallergenic formulas- make sure to check out more tips for saving money on formula.
MSPI Formulas: Difference Between Alimentum Powder and Alimentum Ready to Feed
So, you may be wondering why our daughters adjusted better to the Ready to Feed (liquid version) better than the powder version of the SAME formula Similac Alimentum.
Well, even though this hypoallergenic formula has the same name, it has different ingredients. Some babies respond better with or without some ingredients. So, before moving on to a totally different brand of formula, we wanted to see if the Ready to Feed version was better for their digestive systems.
The powder version of the formula contains corn while RTF version (liquid version) does not.
If Similac Alimentum Powder and RTF do not work for your child, he or she may need another hypoallergenic formula like Nutramigen or even an Elemental Formula like Neocate, Elecare, PurAmino or other formulas for MSPI that are similar and safe. Keep working with your doctor to find the best fit.
Managing Signs and Symptoms of MSPI
While switching to and finding the appropriate hypoallergenic formula was a huge help for our daughters MSPI diagnosis, we also found some other tips.
Like I mentioned before, our Pediatrician but her on a reflux medication which helped tremendously.
We also found that using Dr. Brown bottles were the best kind of bottles for her. They do a really good job at eliminating a lot of the air she would take in while trying to drink her bottle. This in return, helped lower her gas pains and made burping easier for her.
Can You Outgrow MSPI?
The good news is, our daughter outgrew this allergy. By one year old we were able to wean her off of formula onto whole cow’s milk.
We started “dairy trialing” with food as she started eating more and more things before turning one. She passed, loves milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
What’s the Cause of Milk and Soy Protein Intolerances?
There is no definitive cause of having an MSPI diagnosis. There are some theories out there as to why you could have an MSPI baby, most of these theories are where the doctors say that it comes from having weak gut health.
Most theories have something to do with a compromised gut health of either the mother (that she passed to the baby) or starting with the baby itself. But, in most cases, most doctors will tell you that is nothing you did wrong during pregnancy that will cause this diagnosis or problem for your child.
Other questions about MSPI:
Can MSPI cause Reflux?
While reflux can be a symptom of an MSPI diagnosis, just because a baby has reflux, doesn’t mean they’re dairy and soy intolerant.
It has also been found that if you have one baby with MSPI, it is common to have another baby with an MSPI diagnosis as well.
Having an MSPI baby twice – (now three times) I know the symptoms well enough and wanted to share them all with you.
MSPI and reflux can be a hard thing to handle and deal with, feel free to reach out to me for any extra help. I’ve been through it now with all 3 of my children!
Yup, we’re talking baby poop right now. While it is normal for most babies to have loose stools very young, MSPI babies can have very different looking stools.
Instead of yellow seedy poop, babies with mspi poop tend to have green poop. Sometimes stool can show mucous or appear watery or snotty. It can also have visible or microscopic levels of blood.
If you think your baby has a cow’s milk sensitivity or MSPI, you should ask your Pediatrician to test your child’s diaper for blood.
While having a negative for blood doesn’t rule out MSPI, having blood in the stool does usually indicate some kind of food intolerance and dairy and soy are high culprits on the list of problem triggers.
How is MSPI diagnosed?
There is NO specific test that says immediately that a baby has MSPI. If your baby is showing symptoms of MSPI, bring them to your Pediatricians attention and they can use all of the clinical info to put the diagnosis together.
Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child. Some Pediatricians are more likely to take things like this seriously than others.
They can also evaluate stool diapers to see if mucous and/or blood are present. These are common signs of a food intolerance/allergy and can help lead to a timely diagnosis.
Your Pediatrician may send you to a Gastro Pediatrician as well for more testing/ second opinion.
If you have a baby with MSPI, feel free to share your story, your experience and your tips.