Breastfeeding and Food Allergies

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?

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4 Responses to Breastfeeding and Food Allergies

  1. Sandy Toes says:

    I think breastfeeding is a personal choice- it’s goes beyond allergies. I think it’s a great choice when it works! It worked for one and not another….

    I love your picture on your blog with you sitting with your kids…so cute!!!!

    Sandy Toes

    • Cook says:

      I know all about the various issues of working for one and not another. Check back in on Wed to see the choices that we had to make early on about nutrition for our son.

      Thanks for your nice comment about the picture…I like it too!

  2. Celeste Peterson says:

    interesting article, I do think a GOOD diet where the mother is concerned, and breast feeding longer is the best, but of course it is not fool-proof, and one can’t look for a fool proof method, because there isn’t one. It would be most interesting to see a study inwhich the mother drank raw milk as opposed to pasturized/homogenized. I have read studies that have found nearly all who have milk allergies are reacting the the change in the proteins that occures at the temperatures to which the milk is heated, 150F, I believe. The study subjects were given raw milk (in a controlled environment) and didn’t have the allergic reaction previously experienced. I read about this a couple years ago reading about the many superior benefits of raw milk that are cancelled out by being processed for a longer shelf life, and avoiding the inconvience of giving the jug a shake before pouring!

    • Cook says:

      Several in my family buy raw milk and a friend. My mother-in-law makes homemade yogurt with her raw milk and my sister-in-law who has, what I consider “wierd,” sort of milk allergy can handle the yogurt. I don’t know if it is the raw milk, the probiotics or the combination that allows her to consume the yogurt without problem. My friend buys raw milk for the allergy benefits. I’m not sure if she does it for seasonal allergies or food allergies as some in her family have food allergies. She claims it helps.

      In both of these cases, though, the milk allergy has not been severe enough to cause anaphylaxis. I’m not ready to find the nearest “illegal” farm that sells raw milk for my son to test his allergy on. It would be interesting research to further study the benefits of raw milk on food allergies. I’ll have to think more on this topic.

      Thanks for the input!

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