If you have been told that your breastfed infant has food allergies, you may be wondering what to do next. Even a baby who has never been formula fed, and has never had any food besides breast milk may show symptoms of having a food allergy including: diarrhea, bloody stools, vomiting, eczema, constipation and poor growth. Babies can develop allergies to foods that you are eating while you are breastfeeding. Will you still be able to breastfeed? You may be surprised to learn that in most cases, the answer is yes.
Any food could potentially cause an allergy. The most commonly known foods to cause allergies are:
It is not easy to discover which foods are causing an allergic reaction in your baby and allergy testing in young infants is not the most reliable. One way to determine which foods are a problem for your baby is to keep a food diary of what you eat along with a record of your baby’s symptoms.
In most cases where breastfed babies experience food allergies it is usually recommended to remove dairy from your diet. Read all ingredient labels carefully to eliminate any foods that contain dairy. It takes about a month or more for your child’s symptoms to improve. If there is little to no progress after a dairy-free diet, speak to a lactation consultant about eliminating other common allergens from your diet that may be the cause of your baby’s reactions.
Sometimes babies are allergic to more than one food. You may need to stay on this restricted diet the entire time you are breastfeeding, or until your infant is one year old. Many babies outgrow their food allergies by their first birthday.
Breast milk provides important health benefits for your baby including protection from infections and a reduction in chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and many babies enjoy breastfeeding into the second year of life. There is no reason to wean your baby from the breast if your baby develops signs of food allergies. If you change your diet, you and your baby should be able to enjoy breastfeeding until you are both ready to stop.
If you have further questions about breastfeeding your baby and what to do when he or she has a food allergy, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Lactation Consultant is available to help. For further information, please call 718-206-5933.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.