What causes allergies in breastfed babies
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system as it tries to protect us from foreign proteins. In older kids and adults, the fight between your body and tell, cat dander or pollen, takes put “up high,” causing a runny nose or sneezing. But with infants, the allergy battleground is in the intestines. Here are the most common symptoms of milk allergies in infants.
- Signs of abdominal pain (crying and grunting)
- Eczema (itchy red rash inside knees, elbows, neck) Scaly skin rash
- Slimy diarrhea or blood in stools
- Watery eyes, runny nose or stuffy nose
- Coughing or wheezing
- A lot of spitting up
- Swelling (especially of the lips, tongue or throat)
What to Know
- Know the signs and symptoms of food allergy or intolerance reactions in breastfed infants
- Learn which foods are the most common allergens
- How to manage your food intake to assist alleviate your baby’s symptoms
Breastmilk is incredible – it offers a finish form of nutrition for infants, and offers a range of benefits for health, growth, immunity and development.
The nutrients in your breastmilk come directly from what’s circulating in your blood, meaning that whatever nutrients you absorb from the food you eat are passed along to your baby. While being truly allergic or reacting to something in mom’s milk is rare in babies, a little percentage of mothers do notice a difference in their babies’ symptoms or behavior after eating certain foods.
So what counts as a food related reaction? The most common signs of food allergy or intolerance in breastfed infants are eczema (a scaly, red skin rash) and bloody stool (with no other signs of illness).
You might also see hives, wheezing, nasal congestion, vomiting or diarrhea.
If you notice any of these symptoms, an elimination diet can assist both to diagnose and treat a potential food allergy. This means removing potential allergens from your diet one at a time for 2-4 weeks each while you continue breastfeeding and watching to see if your baby’s symptoms subside. Yes, you can continue breastfeeding, despite the symptoms, if your baby continues to grow and put on weight.
If you pinpoint the offending food, avoid it for at least 6 months, or until your baby is 9-12 months ancient (whichever comes later). At that point, you may be capable to reintroduce the food to your diet because most kids will grow out of the allergy.
Which foods might be causing the reaction?
The most common food allergens are cow’s milk, soy, corn and eggs. In fact, in a study of about 100 infants with suspected food allergy, dairy products caused 65% of cases. Peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and chocolate are also frequent allergy culprits.
We recommend consulting your pediatrician to discuss any concerns regarding possible food allergies. While you can likely manage most food allergies in your breastfed baby by changing your diet, there are some cases in which using a hypoallergenic formula may be required.
You can also benefit from a Registered Dietitian’s care while following an elimination diet.
Foods love milk, soy, and corn can hide in every sorts of pesky places, and a Registered Dietitian can assist to ensure that you’ve indeed removed every potential offenders from your plate. He or she can also assess your intake and make recommendations to assist prevent you from becoming deficient in any nutrients now that you’ve changed your usual diet. And the Happy Mama Mentors can assist you meet your breastfeeding goals while keeping both you and baby happy and healthy.
You may own heard that eating foods that make you gassy will also cause gastrointestinal distress for your baby, or that eating foods love onion, garlic and cruciferous vegetables will cause colic.
While there is no significant data to support such an association, there are some little studies indicating that moms did notice certain foods made their babies fussier than usual.
A few mothers notice minor reactions to other foods in their diet. Some babies weep, fuss, or even nurse more often after their mom has eaten spicy or “gassy” foods (such as cabbage). These reactions differ from allergies in that they cause less-serious symptoms (no rashes or abnormal breathing) and almost always final less than twenty-four hours.
If your baby reacts negatively every time you eat a certain type of food and you discover this troubling, you can just avoid that specific food temporarily.
If these symptoms continue on a daily basis and final for endless periods, they may indicate colic rather than food sensitivity. Talk with your pediatrician about this possibility, if eliminating various foods has no effect on your child’s symptoms.
A final note: While more research is needed, some studies own indicated that breastfeeding exclusively for at least four months may assist to reduce the risk and severity of food allergies, even in families with a history of them (1,2). So if your little one does show an intolerance or allergy early, know that it may resolve on its own before they turn one and that continued breastfeeding may assist to protect them against allergies later on.
Diagnosing Breastfeeding Allergies
Within 30 minutes of a mom eating a meal, tiny bits of proteins make it every the way from her stomach to her breast…and can hang out in there for hours.
As mentioned, the most common food allergies babies drop prey to are cow’s milk and soy, and much less common are eggs, nuts, citrus, wheat and shellfish. (The exact same things that cause allergies in large people.) Your doctor may recommend you go a week without consuming these foods (AKA an “elimination diet”…AKA chicken and water…ugh!) to see if the symptoms improve, which generally takes 3-7 days to notice. And then, if things do get better, your health care provider will likely own you do a food challenge, to see if the symptoms come back, which generally happens in just 1-2 days.
If you own concerns about your baby possibly having allergies (from fussing to huge spit ups to stringy, red tinged mucous in the poop), make certain you discuss that with your doctor or nurse practitioner.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition.
It is only meant as general information. If you own any medical questions and concerns about your kid or yourself, please contact your health provider.
Breastfeeding typically does not cause allergies or food sensitivities in babies. And though research suggests that exclusive breastfeeding may assist delay or prevent some types of allergies (which has garnered the interest of numerous parents, particularly since the incidence of food allergies has risen dramatically in the past few decades), allergy risk is influenced by a mixture of genetic and environmental variables.
Breastfeeding is just one part of the puzzle.
What to Do
Keep a food and symptom journal
We know it’s hard to discover time to eat in those first few months, let alone record below what made it into your mouth, but tracking your intake alongside your baby’s symptoms is a excellent way to shed light on any possible reactions.
Just remember that foods we eat remain in our bodies for endless periods of time.
So while a journal can be helpful to pinpoint the onset of symptoms when you first eat the offending food, know that your baby’s symptoms can persist for several days or even 2 weeks, even if you don’t eat that specific food again.
Try an elimination diet
If you notice an adverse reaction in your baby after you eat certain foods, attempt removing that food from your diet and watch for improvement.
Start with cow’s milk, the most frequent cause of allergic reaction in breastfed babies. Remember, it takes time for your body to be completely free of the offending food, so make certain you’ve removed every sources of the food for at least two weeks.
Contact your pediatrician
Bring your baby in for a checkup.
You’ll desire to law out any other causes for her symptoms, check her growth and weight acquire, and make certain she’s not losing excessive blood if she’s experiencing bloody stool. Your doctor can also discuss the possibility of confirming the presence of an allergy with a skin prick test.
If your kid is diagnosed with a food allergy, remember to enquire about reintroducing the food later. Most kids will grow out of food allergies, sometimes by their first birthday.
Changing your diet can be hard.
Happy Family Mentors are here to make suggestions for changes you can make while still maintaining adequate intake of every the nutrients you and your baby need. She can also assist you discover hidden sources of allergens in processed foods, and propose nutritious alternatives to the foods you’ve had to give up (for now).
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Share with other parents
Babies can be unsettled for numerous reasons and it can sometimes take time and effort to work out the cause. However it can be a genuine concern if your baby is uncomfortable, in pain, distressed or if he is being ill, experiencing diarrhoea or has other symptoms.
The Unhappy Breastfed Baby can assist you determine whether your baby’s behaviour is due to something other than an allergy.
But when you own ruled out most of the obvious causes and your baby is still, unhappy, colicky or experiencing dry and itchy skin, you may start to wonder whether your breastfed baby could be reacting to something in his diet, environment, or, if he is exclusively breastfed, something in your own diet.
Certain medical conditions can own symptoms similar to those of an allergic reaction. It may be wise to law these out before deciding whether a baby’s symptoms are due to an allergy.
Eczema, other dermatitis and dry skin rashes can also be reactions to products such as bubble bath, baby wipes, skin cream, fabric conditioner or washing detergent. Numerous mothers discover avoiding unnecessary products or a change of detergent improves things.
Reading packaging can assist avoid problems with common allergens such as lanolin and perfumes. Use fragrance-free products whenever possible. Be aware that herbals can also be allergenic—being natural doesn’t necessarily make a product less irritating. Hay fever symptoms and other ear, nose and throat symptoms can be caused by spring and summer pollens and other airborne allergens such as dust.
Identifying the problem food
If your baby is having only your milk
• Are you taking any laxatives, medicines, vitamins, iron tablets or other supplements?
• Do you drink lots of caffeinated drinks?
Coffee, cola, tea and some pain relievers, freezing remedies, weight control aids and diuretics contain caffeine. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that can own a similar effect to caffeine if you eat a lot.
• Own you recently eaten a new food or any specific food in large amounts?
• Are there any foods that you don’t love but own decided to eat during pregnancy or breastfeeding because you ponder they will be excellent for you and your baby?
• Are there foods that you crave? What foods do you snack on when you own a bad day?
• Do shut family members own problems with any specific foods?
Depending on how sensitive your baby is, removing or cutting below on the offending items in your diet may well solve the problem.
If your baby is not fully breastfed
The majority of babies don’t need anything other than mother’s milk before about six months—no baby formula, drinks, solids or vitamins. Babies over six months who own started solids can be sensitive to certain common foods until they are a little older.
• Could your baby be reacting to the drinks or solid foods he is having?
• Is he on any medication or vitamin supplements?
• Could he be receiving other drinks such as baby formula or juice, or solid food, from anyone else without your knowledge?
Infant formula or follow-on formula is generally cows’ milk-based and a common, avoidable cause of allergy or intolerance.
Babies don’t need follow-on formula at all.
Removing the offending food from your baby’s diet for now should solve the problem; he may be capable to tolerate it in a few months time. If you ponder your baby may be reacting to a prescribed medication that he has to take, speak to your doctor—he may be capable to prescribe an alternative.
Common problem foods
• Cows’ milk, other dairy products and certain protein foods: soya, egg, pork, fish and shellfish.
• Wheat, corn, nuts and peanuts.
• Oranges and other citrus fruits; seedy fruits such as tomatoes, berries and kiwi fruit.
• Cabbage, onions and spices.
Fenugreek is closely related to peanuts.
• Certain additives, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives.
Cutting out suspect foods
If your baby is exclusively breastfed you may need to eliminate the suspect food from your own diet for a while. Only cut out one or two foods at a time and permit 2–3 weeks to see if your baby improves. Be aware that symptoms sometimes get worse before they get better.
If there is no improvement after this time then that food is unlikely to be the culprit and you can reintroduce it into your diet.
Work below the list (above) cutting out one food at a time. Start with cows’ milk, the most common cause of problems. Check package labels for milk products, which may be listed as: butter, yoghurt, cheese, whey, casein or caseinate, or lactose. These can turn up in the most unexpected foods and in some medicines and vitamin tablets.
Some milk-allergic children do well on goat or sheep milk, but these are comparatively rare—more generally a cows’-milk allergy predicts an equally severe allergy to other animal milks, although they can provide a temporary respite.
Some children who are allergic to milk also react to beef.
Find out as much as you can before you start an elimination diet and enquire your doctor for a referral to a dietician, especially if you need to cut out a major food group.
Unless your baby has experienced a severe reaction, you may discover you can reintroduce the offending food later in little amounts without causing symptoms. Seek medical assist if your baby has shown definite anaphylactic signs, such as an immediate rash, swelling or noisy breathing.
A food allergy occurs when a baby’s immune system creates specific antibodies to a specific food. If the baby is then given that food, his immune system releases chemicals including histamine that trigger inflammation and allergic symptoms.
Symptoms can happen within minutes or up to several hours after eating the food responsible. It’s wise to see your GP if your baby is showing signs of allergy, but some symptoms are more worrying than others. Seek medical assist quickly if your baby has an anaphylactic reaction: breathing difficulties, swelling, or a rash appearing immediately after physical contact or eating a specific food.
Tummy symptoms include:
• Seeming hungry for the breast but pulling away after a minute or two, arching the back and screaming.
• Vomiting, projectile vomiting.
• Diarrhoea—large numbers of large, loose, watery poos.
• Cramping, constipation and wind.
• Blood in poos.
May be accompanied by anaemia—NB there are other causes for these symptoms too.
• Poor appetite, poor weight gain.
• Refusal to feed.
• Constant, excessive dribbling. Ear, nose and throat symptoms include:
• Lots of ear wax.
• Runny nose, sneezing, coughing.
• Nasal congestion, lots of secretions.
• Noisy breathing.
• Lung problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
• Swollen tonsils.
Eye and skin symptoms include:
• Swollen eyelids, dark circles under eyes.
• Eczema, dermatitis, hives, other rashes and itching.
• Redness around mouth, on cheeks or in the nappy area.
• Cradle cap.
• Spotty ‘milk rash’.
• Excessive sweating.
Did you know?
• More than 20 substances in cows’ milk own been identified as human allergens.
• If a baby reacts when his mom drinks milk or has dairy products, this is a sensitivity to cows’ milk protein, not lactose intolerance.
• Most baby formulas contain cows’ milk, often referred to as ’whey based’ or ‘casein based’.
• Soya, the basis of some baby formulas, is also a common allergen.
• Baby formula may also contain fish oils and vegetable oils (eg palm, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).
• Medicines and supplements can contain other ingredients that are potentially allergenic.
• If you or a member of your immediate family has an allergy or intolerance, your baby is more likely to own one too.
Source: United States Breastfeeding Committee
Breastmilk contains tiny traces of whatever foods a mom has herself been eating.
This is the ideal way to prepare a baby gently for the eventual introduction of solids. The best weaning foods for your baby are generally healthy foods selected from your diet. The best time to start weaning is whenever he starts reaching out for the food on your plate.
A food intolerance doesn’t involve an allergic reaction but can cause similar symptoms. You may not need to stop giving your baby a food to which he is intolerant—reducing the quantity may be enough.
Doesn’t breastfeeding prevent allergy?
Breastfeeding generally helps to protect against allergy but it may still happen. If one or both parents own an allergy or food intolerance, it makes it more likely that their baby will too.
Early exposure to baby formula based on cows’ milk or soya increases the risk of allergy or intolerance both in childhood and in later life.
A baby’s immune system is immature at birth.
Colostrum, or early milk, is wealthy in antibodies, particularly sIgA, which provides a protective coating inside a baby’s intestines.
Mature mother’s milk continues to provide protection, helping to prevent potential allergens from reaching a baby’s blood stream.
It can be fairly an effort to be an allergy detective with a fussy baby on your hands, so seek information and support. The excellent news is that little changes to your diet could make a large difference to a baby with a food allergy or intolerance. An LLL Leader can assist you determine the most likely cause of your baby’s symptoms. Local LLL groups are grand for practical and moral support and you may discover others there who own had similar experiences.
Written by Sue Cardus and mothers of LLLGB
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
LLLI. London: Pinter & Martin, 2010.
Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple. Mohrbacher, N. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, 2010.
My Baby Won’t Breastfeed
Safe Sleep & The Breastfed Baby
The Unhappy Breastfed Baby
Toddlers and Food
You can purchase this information in printed form from our shop.
Copyright LLLGB 2016
Filed Under: Common ConcernsTagged With: allergy, cow’s milk protein, Crying, diarrhoea, food, intolerance, rash, swollen, triggers
Milk Allergy in Infants
If your baby seems additional fussy, gassy, barfy, snorty or rashy you may wonder, “Can babies be allergic to breastmilk?” The answer?
No, the natural breastmilk proteins are so mild that they just don’t provoke allergies in babies. However, here’s the large BUT. Babies can be allergic to foods that you eat…tiny bits of which can sneak into your milk!
How do we know infants don’t get breastmilk allergies? In 1983, Swedish scientists proved that even colicky babies are totally fine with their mom’s milk, however, they can be allergic to proteins that pass through the mom’s intestines into her bloodstream and then into her milk.
And, those foreign invaders can sometimes create major hassles. About 10% of colic caused by a baby food allergy—most often the common allergenic foods, love dairy, soy, citrus, eggs, nuts, etc.—or food sensitivity—like caffeine in coffee, chocolate, ice tea, cola, Chinese herbs or decongestant medicine. (Most colic has nothing to do with the intestines.
It’s actually an imbalance of too much chaos and too much silent and too little rhythmic stimulation. That’s why fussy babies can often be soothed by the 5 S’s.)
Allergies in Children
Babies and children can experience the finish range of allergic conditions, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), skin allergies (most common in kids 0 to 4), food allergies, eczema, asthma, and more.
Allergic reactions can be the result of immunologic changes in immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody formed by the immune system.
They can also be non-IgE mediated, instead involving mast cells and basophils. Babies may come into the world predisposed to allergies, but they may not actually own reactions until they've had repeated exposure to an allergen. In some cases, an allergy might not become obvious until later in life.