What I had intended to say about the debate on breastfeeding and food allergies is nicely summed up in this article. Hop over to read it and then come back here and give me your thoughts.
Basically what it comes down to is that what we always thought to be the case, breastfeeding and avoiding high-risk food allergens as a means to prevent food allergies, may not be the case. While breastfeeding is still considered the best nutrition for infants, at least up to age 4-6 months, a mother restricting her diet to prevent food allergies may or may not actually prevent them. The opinion of the medical community is so mixed on this issue that the AMA no longer recommends breastfeeding mothers restrict their diets as a preventative measure to food allergies.
Well-known breastfeeding advocacy groups (La Leche League International), on the other hand, support the previous research of preventative food allergy diets during pregnancy and breastfeeding (some of their citations were from 30 year old research). They also strongly disagree with early introduction of solid foods as a benefit to preventing food allergies (in contrast, read this article on recent developments of the benefit of early introduction to peanuts).
For some anecdotal evidence, when pregnant with my third child, I asked our allergist if I should be taking any preventative measures against food allergies. The doctors response was simply “no.” She said that there is no solid evidence that avoidance of any foods during pregnancy prevents food allergies in the child. However, she said there is evidence to suggest that the probiotics from yogurt (healthy yogurt, not candy yogurt) consumed daily during pregnancy may prevent food allergies. She emphasized “may.” (This will be discussed in a future post.)
I could not find much scientific evidence on the benefit of continuing to breastfeed after a food allergy is discovered in an infant. That would be a study worth conducting, in my opinion. Most women are told that they have to wean the baby and start on specialty formula. But for what reason? Aren’t there a myriad of ingredients in formula? Can’t a mother successfully breastfeed a food allergy baby by eliminating the offending allergens from her diet?
More on this topic on Wednesday when I discuss the early decisions we made in our home.
Do you have any thoughts on any of the topics related to breastfeeding and food allergies?