Expert opinion: Are breastfed babies less likely to develop allergies?
Is it true that breastfed babies are less prone to allergies? What can breastfeeding mums do to prevent allergies in their little ones? Get tips on these topics from our expert, Dr Low Kah Tzay.
Many mothers today are aware of the numerous benefits of breastfeeding their baby. Apart from giving their babies the best, all-natural source of “food” during the first year, breastfeeding allows both mum and baby to bond in an indescribable way.
Although babies who are breastfed are least likely to develop food allergies during their childhood, it doesn’t mean that they are free from them either.
Allergies in breastfed babies may still occur if there is a family history of allergy. The best course of action to take is to detect the food that may be causing this, and eliminate it from the breastfeeding mum’s diet. Ideally, this should be done with medical supervision, to ensure that the nursing mother continues to have her daily dietary requirements without compromising on nutritional intake for both.
To investigate further on the issue of breastfeeding and childhood allergies, we spoke to Dr Low Kah Tzay, Paediatric Doctor at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic, Paragon Medical Centre.
Check out Dr Low’s replies below to some of the questions related to this topic that our readers have sent in.
Q: I’m exclusively breastfeeding my baby, and of late, she’s developed eczema on her cheek. Is this due to my food intake? If so, what foods should I avoid so that it does aggravate her skin condition?
A: Eczema is a non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that is characterised by itching, redness and scaly rashes. These symptoms can be painful, and may cause skin colouring changes and blisters.
Symptoms of eczema often appear on the arms, legs, hands and face. The itch associated with eczema can be severe, often interrupting sleep. Scratching of the skin may lead to an infection.
Eczema most commonly presents before the age of 5, but adolescents and adults can also develop this condition. Children born into families with a history of allergic diseases such as asthma or hay fever are at an increased risk of developing eczema.
The baby’s rash may not be related to mother’s food intake. Mum can keep a food diary for herself and observe if baby’s rash worsens with any particular food she ingests.
Q: Do babies/kids outgrow their allergies at certain point or is it for life?
A: Some children do outgrow their food allergies. Examples of this are allergies towards cow’s milk, soy, wheat or egg.
However, some food allergies in adulthood may persist such as those involving shell fish and peanuts.
Parents should discuss with their doctor for specific advice on individual food allergies and how to re-introduce these foods when their child is older.
Q: What’s a good way to find out what our kids are allergic to? Should we go through trial and error or extensive medical testing?
A: When a baby turns 6 months and is ready to wean, it is recommended to introduce one food item at a time and observe for any allergic response.
We hope that Dr Low’s tips and advice have helped to ease your doubts when it comes to breastfeeding and allergies in kids.
Be sure to watch the video below, and do look out for our next ‘Ask the Expert’ series on theAsianparent!
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