Allergic to Breastmilk?

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Allergic to Breastmilk?

We’ve all seen the recent headlines about Mylan, EpiPen, and watched the topic of “food allergies” take center stage. Not only are food allergies in the headlines of mainstream news publications but mommy groups are buzzing with discussions of allergies, intolerance, and how to keep their children safe.

Just the other day, I came across an article that mentioned “one child in every classroom has a nut allergy”. I don’t doubt it, but as a thirty-something, I find this statistic shocking since 99.9% of my childhood friends had peanut butter and jelly in their lunchboxes.

As it turns out, the incidence of food allergies have increased tenfold over the past 20 years; which is largely due to narrowed food choices and an increased exposure to additives, preservatives, and other allergy causing agents . However, there is ONE food that children are rarely allergic to, mother’s breastmilk. As it turns out, breastfeeding is known to be one of the best defenses against allergens. Several long terms studies suggest that breastmilk has protectorate qualities that lessen allergies in children and provide resilience though adolescence .

I know what some of you are thinking…your child falls in the 2-3% of infants who are allergic to breastmilk. Just remember, when a child IS allergic to breastmilk, it’s not usually a reaction to the mother’s milk itself; instead it’s often a result of cow’s milk or soy in a mother’s diet. For instances, it’s been found that cow’s milk contains more than 20 substances that may trigger allergies .

If you feel your child has a sensitivity, it’s important to understand the difference between an allergy and intolerance. An intolerance occurs when a little one’s stomach in unable to digest a food properly, whereas a food allergy triggers a response from the child’s immune system in which a particular food is identified as dangerous and a the body attacks it. While both result in stress and discomfort, a food allergy is much more serious because it includes escalating life threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and a sudden drop in blood pressure. In the latter case, always call 911.

If your child exhibits intolerance, try removing soy and dairy from your diet. I know it’s a lot to ask but if you can identify the source of intolerance and remove it, you can continue your breastfeeding journey and your little one will be better off for it. According to the La Leche League, Breastfeeding protects children against allergies in the following ways:

1. Breastmilk minimizes a child’s exposure to allergens, because a child is only exposed to foods the mother eats and secrets in her milk.
2. Breastmilk delivers antibodies that help support an infant’s immature immune system.
3. Mother’s milk is the safest choice and the easiest for an infant to digest. This is important because an infant’s digestive system isn’t ready to defend itself from foreign contaminants until 6 months of age.

Breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can do to protect our children. While food intolerances can be stressful, disruptive and difficult to diagnose- do not give up on nursing. Simply recognize that some foods such as eggs, wheat, corn, nuts, cabbage, cow’s milk, soy, onions or chocolate may be more prone to causing gas and breastfeeding intolerance. Instead of eliminating large and beneficial foods groups, address these triggers one at a time. Like anything else, understanding intolerance, breastfeeding, and the needs of our children is a learning process; you will find the best way to care for your baby.

Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A guide for the Medican Profession, 4th edition. St Louis; Mosby 1994
Gruskay F. Comparison of breast, covw and soy feedings in the prevention of of onset of allergic disease, a 15 year study.
Stigler U. Preventitive dietary management; prenatal, neonatal and infancy. 1985; 3:1:50-54
Allergies and the breastfeeding family, Karen Zeretzke, New Beginnings, Vol 15 No 4 July-Aug 1998 p

small-photoWritten by Melissa LaHann, Founder and CEO of Happy Fig, LLC

Like many moms before her, Melissa cradled her hungry, crying baby as she clumsily adjusted her bra and sat uncomfortably holding up her shirt. Before she knew it, her baby was squirming, her shirt was falling, and the nursing session was interrupted. She needed a better solution, so she created LatchPal, the first nursing clip of its kind.

LatchPal is a breastfeeding shirt clip that holds up a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding. It eliminates shirt re-positioning and feeding disruptions, and helps a mom nurse hands-free in comfort to maximize milk flow. LatchPal was designed with moms in mind. The multi-use solution only requires one hand to latch. It’s a must-have breastfeeding accessory and essential for post-partum moms, pumping moms, and nursing in public.

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