14 November 2008

Oy Vay!

Request for Information from Parents in Germany or France

So, Global Baby is lactose intolerant. This was extremely easy to handle in the US. In Switzerland, not so much.

Originally I was told that any baby formula which says HA (for Hypo-Allergenic) would be fine for him. This week we mixed the US and Swiss formulas together to change him over. Yesterday was his first day completely on the Swiss baby formula.

It was a day spent in Hell. He was spitting up almost as much as he was eating, any adjustment in position caused enormous farts, his diapers where indescribably foul and by the afternoon there was a whole lot of screaming and fussing for an hour after every bottle. Last night I got about 4 hours of sleep because I spent much of the night holding him while rocking on the couch (actual rocking chair on order) and rubbing his upset tummy.

Turns out that HA means lactose-reduced, not lactose-free.

After some questions we discovered that true lactose-free formula must be purchased from the pharmacy. This morning I went to get some. Tiny canister. Big price. A 2-3 day supply of formula was 32 chf!

He's only 7 weeks old. He doesn't even eat that much yet! Imagine what it will be at 6 months or a year old?

Buying formula from the US and paying for airmail plus customs tax would actually be cheaper.

So, can anyone tell me what the lactose-free formula options are in Germany or France? Periodically driving an hour to the border to stock up might be easier and cheaper than shipping from the US.

Man, I wish the US military bases would allow US citizens on base to use the commissaries. Because they stock the US stuff!

On the plus side, with the Super-Expensive formula Global Baby is now sleeping peacefully. Hopefully I will be able to get a nap this afternoon as well...


Sara said...

poor baby :(
i agree with you on the base thing! or i want my taxes to at least pay for something for me, why not one of those spiffy US addresses in Europe?
Any chance insurance would cover the formula? Sometimes they cover wacky stuff they wouldn't in the US (like the prescription support hose i just had to buy)

Sarah said...

He looks pretty adorable, now that his digestive system is back on track. Is it legal for friends from home to ship you some? :-)

Expat Traveler said...

I just can't believe he's already 7 wks old! Good luck with the formula stuff.. Looks like you are catching the new mother "memory" syndrome too. ;-) And happy anniversary!

Angela said...

Are there formula mixes that you are supposed to mix with milk? Because there is definitely lactose-free milk in CH, so maybe that would be an option?

DrSpouse said...

I don't think babies can have any cows milk for other allergy-type reasons.

You can get lactose-free SMA on UK Ebay, which seems relatively reasonable compared to what you are quoting, the postage wouldn't be THAT much more to Switzerland. It often won't say "formula", just "baby milk".

http://tinyurl.com/6febx5 for example

DrSpouse said...

PS - I'm assuming you also have some kind of national health coverage, and in the UK also I think babies with special needs get formula prescribed.

PPS I emailed you but am not sure you got it! If you didn't, would you mind leaving a comment on my blog and I'll email again?

Global Librarian said...

Hmm. Our insurance is actually through the UK due to our expat situation. I wonder if that would work.

And infants should never be given milk directly. Cow's milk is extremely difficult for most infants to digest and exposure too soon can trigger a lifelong allergy. Infant formulas are cow-milked based, but it is changed to make it easier to digest. Some infants, however, are more sensitive than others and require a higher level of processing to digest it. That is why they are more expensive, although this cost seems rather excessive.

The issue about having the formula shipped is that each country has different requirements for what baby formula must contain, and different laws about the import of formulas from other countries. I have discovered that Switzerland apparently does not allow infant formula to be imported (or shipped to individuals) except by pharmacies and medical professionals. Indeed, the formula we are currently using is actually produced by a Dutch company and can be sold only by pharmacies and at medical offices.

Another option is soy-based formula. But that is not preferred by most doctors because children need so much protein and fat in their diets in order to develop their bodies and brains and animal fat and protein is the most efficient vehicle for delivery. Soy is considered an inferior form of the protein for an infant or young child. Also, most soy formulas replace the lactose with high-fructose corn syrup. Ah yeah, rather avoid that.

So it looks as if our best option is to figure out what formulas are available in Germany or France and then make periodic trips to purchase it in bulk.

Or just suck it up and deal with the cost and frequent trips to purchase tiny canisters of formula because their inventory is small and they only sell a few at a time per customer...

Sometimes living in Switzerland is extremely inconvenient!

christina said...

Wow, that's some steep price for formula!

I'm trying to search the web for this and the only ones I'm coming up with in Germany are Humana SL Milchfreie Spezialnahrung (lactose free, gluten free, sucrose free, galactose free)
and Aptamil Soja which is soy based. The Aptamil says it's lactose free, BUT in addition it says it's not for infants under 6 months if they have a proven cow's milk allergy. Hmm. I also personally agree with staying away from soy formula for the reasons you mentioned and also because it is suspected of causing thyroid problems.

Oops, I just checked the Humana again and it looks like it also contains soy. Great.

Your best bet might be just to go to Germany some time and ask at a pharmacy.

Susie Vereker said...

Perhaps you can get your doctor to prescribe lactose-free baby milk for GB, then your insurance would cover it, wouldn't it? Maybe GB won't need lactose-free formula when he is a little older?
But, yes, SMA in UK do have a lactose free formula.

Susan May said...

Good luck with your search for (some-what)affordable formula! He sure looks darling sleeping in his high-class chair. Glad he got some rest on Friday and I hope you did too!

Mom in High Heels said...

I just shot you an email. My ds had the same problem (though he was also allergic to soy).

Anonymous said...

I stopped in the pharmacy in our buidling yesterday and explained the situation. They didn't know offhand and sadi they would have to call each manufacturer individually. I didn't feel comfortable asking them to because you won't actually make the purchase from them. How's you German re: calling a pharmacy you might actually buy from to get pricing info. My SIL is in Freiburg. Is that reasonable from where you are?

Global Librarian said...

Konstanz is the closest and we'll get there one of these Saturdays. We are still waiting for GB's Swiss permit to arrive and are not supposed to leave the country at the moment. Should be here any time...

We do need to find an alternative because even though he is better on this formula, he is still having issues. At this stage I am inclined to just order the US formula and deal with the inconvenience of it for the next year.

Anonymous said...

would you be allowed to receive it by mail? did i misunderstand the part about the import restrictions?

Global Librarian said...

Annonamoose: It is against German Law to send consumable items through the mail. Of course, that doesn't stop people from sending cookies and such to expats in Germany. But it is against the law and I wouldn't want to ask anyone to risk getting caught.

GB is doing a lot better than he was and we should be able to go to Konstanz either this weekend or the next, depending upon when his residency permit arrives.

But thanks for the offer!

Ingrid said...

My cousin´s babies was the same and they went through the whole rigmarole with formula (times 3). She also found that when the baby was about 3 months old, they became a little less sensitive and were able to use a less expensive formula (Austria is the same). I think she had a special prescription, but then at 3 months started to use the special Aptimil. Good luck

Anonymous said...

I have find a good price for HUMANA SL (based on soya protein) here:

(in Italy) http://www.bimbolatte.it/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=33
(in Germany) http://www.flaschenmilch.de/catalog/index.php