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World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun 28;19(24):3824-30. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i24.3824.

Characteristics of allergic colitis in breast-fed infants in the absence of cow's milk allergy.

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1st Department of Pediatrics, Semmelweis University, 1083 Budapest, Hungary.



To investigate the characteristics of mucosal lesions and their relation to laboratory data and long-term follow up in breast-fed infants with allergic colitis.


In this study 31 breast-fed infants were prospectively evaluated (mean age, 17.4 wk) whose rectal bleeding had not ceased after a maternal elimination diet for cow's milk. Thirty-four age-matched and breast-fed infants (mean age, 16.9 wk) with no rectal bleeding were enrolled for laboratory testing as controls. Laboratory findings, colonoscopic and histological characteristics were prospectively evaluated in infants with rectal bleeding. Long-term follow-up with different nutritional regimes (L-amino-acid based formula or breastfeeding) was also included.


Iron deficiency, peripheral eosinophilia and thrombocytosis were significantly higher in patients with allergic colitis in comparison to controls (8.4 ± 3.2 μmol/L vs 13.7 ± 4.7 μmol/L, P < 0.001; 0.67 ± 0.49 G/L vs 0.33 ± 0.17 G/L, P < 0.001; 474 ± 123 G/L vs 376 ± 89 G/L, P < 0.001, respectively). At colonoscopy, lymphonodular hyperplasia or aphthous ulceration were present in 83% of patients. Twenty-two patients were given L-amino acid-based formula and 8 continued the previous feeding. Time to cessation of rectal bleeding was shorter in the special formula feeding group (mean, 1.4 wk; range, 0.5-3 wk) when compared with the breast-feeding group (mean, 5.3 wk; range, 2-9 wk). Nevertheless, none of the patients exhibited rectal bleeding at the 3-mo visit irrespective of the type of feeding. Peripheral eosinophilia and cessation of rectal bleeding after administration of elemental formula correlated with a higher density of mucosal eosinophils.


Infant hematochezia, after cow's milk allergy exclusion, is generally a benign and probably self-limiting disorder despite marked mucosal abnormality. Formula feeding results in shorter time to cessation of rectal bleeding; however, breast-feeding should not be discouraged in long-lasting hematochezia.


Allergic colitis; Amino-acid formula; Breast-feeding; Colonoscopy; Rectal bleeding

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