Are any babies allergic to their mother’s milk?
Is it possible for a baby to be allergic to her mother's breastmilk?
Mums often worry about what they are eating and whether it will pass on to their breastfed baby. You should be pleased to know that human breast milk typically does not cause allergic reactions in breastfeeding infants. Studies have shown that only two or three out of every one hundred babies who are exclusively breastfed demonstrate an allergic reaction. These reactions are most often because of the the cow’s milk in their mother’s diet. In such cases, the baby may show signs of abdominal discomfort, severe colic, or a skin rash such as eczema or hives. He may also react with severe diarrhoea (often with blood in the stool), vomiting, or difficulty breathing that may last up to several hours after breastfeeding.
If you see these symptoms in your baby, please contact your pediatrician right away. Even though these allergies are rare, they can be severe or fatal. Most of the babies with milk allergies will eventually outgrow it, although food allergies to other substances may be lifelong.
A few mothers also notice minor reactions to other foods in their diet. Some babies cry, fuss, or even nurse more often after their mother 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 last less than twenty-four hours.
If your baby reacts negatively every time you eat a certain type of food and you find this troubling, you can just avoid that particular food temporarily. If these symptoms continue on a daily basis and last for long 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.
Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life has been shown to significantly lessen the risk and severity of food allergies in families with a strong history of them. Exclusive breastfeeding or breastfeeding in combination with partially or extensively hydrolyzed infant formula also reduces the risk for eczema, a condition of excessively dry and easily irritated skin.
So far, there is no evidence that avoiding certain foods while breastfeeding can help prevent your child from developing allergies or asthma. The exception to that might be eczema: some studies suggest that avoiding certain foods may reduce your baby’s risk for developing eczema. Still, if your family has experienced severe food allergies, you might consider limiting your intake of milk and dairy products, fish, eggs, peanuts, and other nuts during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Monitor your baby carefully for skin rashes, breathing problems, unusual stools, or other allergic symptoms, and be sure to tell your pediatrician about your family’s medical history.
In the first months of life, the baby‘s intestines are not fully matured and foreign substances present in formula may enter the system of the baby through the immature intestine. Such babies are more prone to allergic diseases like allergic milk intolerance with severe vomiting and diarrhoea and allergic rash, asthma or eczema.
When in doubt, please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby's situation.
theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.