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The Beutler test for babies in Travelling community

Members of the Travelling community are more likely to have galactosaemia. This means babies can't digest breast milk, cow's milk and formula well. You'll be offered a test after your baby's born to see if they have the condition.

If you're a member of the Travelling community, your baby will be tested for a condition called galactosaemia soon after birth. The risk of galactosaemia is 80 times higher in the Travelling community.

This condition means that babies are not able to digest a particular type of sugar found in breast milk, ordinary milk and formula milk. So they will need to use a special soya milk instead. Otherwise, your baby may have:

  • liver problems
  • infections
  • bleeding problems

How the test is done

The test takes place in the delivery ward before your baby's first feed. A tiny drop of blood is taken from your baby's foot and sent to the lab for testing. The result will be back in 2 to 3 days, but it could be quicker.

You must give your baby soya milk until the test result is back. You must not breastfeed your baby during this time, but you can begin to express your breast milk. Your breast milk can be stored until you know the results of the Beutler test.

If your baby has the condition

If your baby has the condition, they will probably have to continue using soya milk. Your GP, public health nurse or community dietitian will advise you on the best way to feed your baby.

If your baby does not have the condition

If your baby does not have the condition, stop using the soya milk.

Soya formula contains a different type of sugar than normal milk. It could be harmful for a baby's developing teeth.

There are some concerns that soya milk could interfere with a baby's fertility in the future. More research needs to be done on this.

Your midwife will support and help you with breastfeeding your baby.

If you plan on giving your baby formula, you can switch to ordinary formula as soon as you know your baby's test result.

Page last reviewed: 14/11/2018
Next review due: 14/11/2021