Infant Food Allergy

Breastfeeding and Infant Food Allergy

Most babies are not fussy as a result of food allergies. Most times these colic symptoms are due to growth spurtsacid reflux and/or normal baby development.

All breastfeeding mothers should try to avoid dairy products within the first few weeks after baby's birth, as all newborn babies have digestive systems that are immature.

A mother should notice a difference in her baby’s behavior after eating certain foods, but fussiness on its own, is not a sign of food sensitivity. Here are some symptoms of food allergy to look out for...

Breastfeeding Protects

Allergies are more common in non-breastfed babies. Colostrum contains high concentrations of sIgA, and anti-infective, which coats the baby's gut. This prevents the passage of foreign proteins and germs that cause allergic reactions. 

Even just a small amount of formula can alter your baby's gut protection against bacteria for a month! This can increase the risk of allergies and diabetes. If the mother's breast milk is not available, donor breast milk should be considered first. Formula should always be used as a last resort. 

Read more about the gut protection that breast milk offers

Read more about the immune protective properties of breast milk 

Baby Food Allergy Symptoms

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  • Eczema, hives and dry, reddened skin (mostly found on the face).
  • Chest wheezing, asthma and trouble breathing.
  • Colic, incessant crying and poor sleeping patterns.
  • Acid reflux and vomiting.
  • Runny nose and red, itchy eyes.
  • Diarrhea, constipation and/or diaper rash.
  • Less absorption of nutrients, which can cause weight loss.
  • Anaphylaxis may also occur, but this is a very severe reaction towards an allergen, which can be fatal and usually involves restriction (swelling closed) of the airway.

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Should I Continue to Breastfeed?

Infant food allergy Fact

Breastfeeding protects against food sensitivity in infants, and for later in life.

Breastfed babies are exposed to fewer allergens like cow's milk and/or soy products, which reduces a baby's chances of becoming allergic to them.

Also, breastfeeding strengthens a baby’s immune system and digestive system, providing more immunity against food sensitiveness.

Should I continue to breastfeed, if my baby is allergic to some foods?

Yes, the mother needs to figure out which foods are causing the allergic reaction. Then she will need to eliminate these specific foods from her diet.

If a baby is allergic to cow’s milk, she should keep away from all dairy products. A reaction towards a specific food, can show immediately or only after 24 hours.

The mother should stay away from the specific food, she thinks could be causing the problem, for at least four weeks, to see if her baby still has the same symptoms.

Some babies may seem to experience worsened symptoms, for about a week after eliminating the problem food.

Most Common Food Allergies

Some common foods that cause food allergies include; peanuts, shellfish, cows milk protein, eggs, wheat, citrus fruits, fish, soy and food additives. What bothers one baby, may not bother another.

Read more about foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

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What Causes Baby Allergies?

A family history of specific food sensitivity, asthma and/or eczema. If both parents have allergies, their baby is 80% more likely to get it, if only one parent is affected, baby has a 30% chance of being allergic.   

Does my baby have lactose intolerance? Read more about this here

Also, if you introduce solid foods too soon, or formula before the age of 6 months, your baby is more likely to develop an allergy and/or less serious food sensitivity. Read more about this below...

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Cow Milk Sensitivity
Dairy Allergy

When babies have a sensitivity towards cow's milk, it is the protein in the milk that causes the milk allergies, not the lactose. This is why switching to lactose fee products will not help. A milk protein allergy can cause all of the symptoms mentioned above.

Most babies with an infant milk allergy, will most likely be allergic to soy and beef as well. Breastfeeding mothers will need to eliminate all forms of cow’s milk protein, including cream, yogurt, butter and cheese. Also anything containing casein, caseinate, sodium and/or calcium caseinate, lactalbumin or whey. The mother will need to start reading labels on purchased foods, that may contain cow’s milk protein.

Most of these babies will outgrow their sensitivities, by the age of two. It's best to wait at least until your baby is six months old, before trying to introduce dairy products again.

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Egg Allergies

Babies with egg allergies, may also be allergic to: albumin, dried eggs, egg powder, egg solids, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovitellin, ovalbumin, livetin and Simplesse. Egg allergy symptoms are the same as the symptoms mentioned above.

Peanut Allergy
Peanut Intolerance

One in every 150 children, are affected by peanut allergy. A peanut allergy can be quite severe in some cases.

Traces of peanuts can be found in almost anything, it can even be found in baby formula, ice cream and cereals.

Nut allergy symptoms are also the same as the symptoms mentioned above.

Why Wait to Introduce Solids?

Your baby's digestive tract needs to mature before you start to introduce solid foods. Why? Because of two things, namely: Allergens and Enzymes. 

If you give your child solid foods before the six month mark, the lining of your baby's intestines are not sealed off properly against allergens yet. This causes problems like eczema.

Before the six month mark your baby is also not producing sufficient Enzymes for breaking down foods. So when you give your baby foods before this period, it might result in runny stools, gas issues and undigested food (which means that your child is not absorbing all the nutrients in the food).

Read more about the introduction of solids here. 

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Treatment Options for Food Sensitivities

  • Food elimination as discussed above.
  • Medication.
  • Allergy tests.
  • Immunotherapy.

Breastfeeding and Infant Food Allergy

Prevention of All Food Intolerances

  • When trying to prevent infant food allergies, pregnant mothers can avoid all foods, that have caused allergy problems in themselves and their families; this will give the baby a better chance at not being allergic. Mothers should remember to replace the eliminated food, with another food option or with an equivalent supplement.
  • Breastfeeding exclusively for at least four months, can reduce the risk of infant allergy, the occurrence of eczema and the development of asthma.
  • To prevent baby allergy, keep your baby and yourself, away from:

~ Dairy products, for a year from birth.

~ Eggs for the first two years.

~ Peanuts, nuts and fish should be avoided for the first three years.

Gassiness in the Breastfed Baby

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Child And Infant Food Allergy Network Support Group…

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with food allergy breastfeeding

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