MSPI, A Nutrition Mystery Solved – Part I

MSPI, sounds like another cop drama doesn’t it? Or in the context of my blog and profession, some sort of nutrition investigation, which isn’t far from the truth. I first became familiar with MSPI, or milk soy protein intolerance, over three years ago after my son was born. At the time, there wasn’t much information readily found about it and my pediatrician was not very knowledgeable about it either. There is more awareness regarding the condition now.

About 5% of babies are affected by MSPI. Essentially the baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to handle the protein found in dairy products. Lactose, which is a carbohydrate, isn’t the issue. In about 50% of babies that cannot digest dairy protein, soy protein is also an issue. Most babies will outgrow the intolerance by the time they are a year old, though for some it may take a little longer or in rare instances it may become a life-long allergy.

Signs and symptoms of MSPI can be different from one baby to the next. The baby may present with colic-like fussiness and inconsolable crying. Stools may change to runny, foul-smelling or even bloody. Reflux and excessive spitting up is yet another sign that the baby has MSPI. If any of these signs or symptoms appear, it is best to seek out the advice of your pediatrician immediately to determine the cause.

The treatment for MSPI is to remove all dairy and possibly soy products from the mother’s diet if she is breastfeeding or to feed a special formula to the infant. It is a daunting task for some mothers who are breastfeeding to remove all sources of dairy and soy from their diets and some may choose to give up breastfeeding because they perceive it is just too difficult.

While it is a sacrifice to go without dairy and possibly soy, it is one I am willing to make for the sake of my child. It is also much less expensive than buying specialty formula. I respect a mother’s decision, however, on whether or not to breastfeed, and what makes the most sense in light of her lifestyle and particular situation. While some may choose to use medication to control the reflux, in my opinion, this is not treating the root of the problem and like treating a leak in a dam with a bandaid. Whatever the decision though, it should be an informed one in conjunction with a knowledgeable pediatrician on the best course of action.

I have since switched pediatricians and was relieved when similar issues cropped up with my daughter a few months ago that my new pediatrician was proactively involved in finding a nutrition solution versus a pharmacological one.

Keep reading for my personal story with MSPI in Part II and in Part III I’ll talk about what the heck I eat (as I’m often asked)! There are so many more products available today than three years ago that really do make eating without soy or dairy easier now more than ever.