Did you know that breastmilk is also called liquid gold? Yes, you read that right! Breastmilk is the veritable storehouse of goodness and women around the world are waking up to this free source of nutrition for their babies. For most women, breastmilk is like manna from heaven.
But, is there a fine print point we forgot to read about regarding breastmilk? Can breastmilk harm your baby in any way? Well, it isn’t unheard of, as some women claim that their children are allergic to breast milk. But how accurate is that claim? Can babies be allergic to breastmilk? Momjunction has the answers for you here. So, read on and find out.
Can Babies Be Allergic To Breastmilk?
Allergies are very real, too real, for some families. An allergy-ridden family has to live with many food restrictions, which can make childhood pretty rough. But of the many things a child can be allergic to, breastmilk is not one of them.
Yes, a baby cannot be allergic to breast milk! So, what about mothers who report cases of their babies developing a breastmilk allergy? Well, most reported cases of breastmilk allergy are in reality an allergy or intolerance that ‘appear’ to be a breastmilk allergy.
Such cases can be done away with a mere change in the mother’s diet.
In most cases, a baby develops allergies to some of the components that reach the mother’s milk via her diet. Casein proteins present in milk and other dairy-based products, part of a mother’s diet, can adversely affect a baby’s digestive system, causing gas, stomach pain, rashes (around the mouth and anus), and diarrhea, etc. But it is not just dairy that can cause allergy-like symptoms in infants! Other foods like peanuts and soy in the mother’s diet too can mimic breastmilk allergy symptoms.
[ Read: Formula Milk Allergy In Babies ]
Lactose Intolerance In Babies:
Sometimes, the allergy symptoms in your baby are due to a food intolerance. Many babies are lactose intolerant, which can be misconstrued as a breastmilk allergy. Milk sugar lactose present in the milk you consume can reach your baby, via the breast milk. But unlike an allergy, lactose intolerance does not cause an autoimmune response and is not that harmful. If your baby is lactose intolerant, you don’t need to remove milk from your diet because it is a self-limiting condition and it improves with time.
Some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies include:
- Bloated stomach
- Spitting up
- Failure to thrive
Galactosemia In Babies:
Galactosemia is a rare condition, but it is real for many families. Galactosemia is not an allergy, but it does prevent a baby from digesting breastmilk – in fact, babies with the disorder cannot tolerate any milk. When a baby has galactosemia, his liver is unable to break down the galactose in milk. Galactose is a milk sugar like lactose and forms an important part of milk.
[ Read: Soy Allergy In Babies ]
Symptoms of Galactosemia include:
- Failure to thrive
But, it is unlikely that your baby has this disorder because most cases of galactosemia come to the fore within days of a baby’s birth and are treated promptly.
Symptoms Of A Breastmilk Allergy:
If you suspect that your baby allergic to breastmilk, watch out for the following symptoms.
Talk to your doctor if your baby experiences:
- Eczema-like rash
- Mucus or blood in stool (diarrhea)
- Frequent spitting up
- Abdominal pain
- Watery eyes and stuffy nose
- Trouble breathing and swelling in the mouth
DealingWith A Milk Allergy in Babies:
If your breastfed baby exhibits the symptoms of an allergy, remember you are not to blame! All children are born with a different physiology. There is no way to know about all possible allergens your baby need to stay away from without experience. But once you do see your baby struggling after consuming breast milk, talk to your pediatrician.
- The first thing that you need to do is figure out what exactly your baby is allergic to.
- Start with common allergens like dairy. Eliminate dairy from your diet, and this includes all kinds of foods that contain casein and whey. So, look at labels!
- But you’ll need at least a week to see a difference in your baby if he is allergic to the dairy in your diet. So, be ready for a long haul.
- Sometimes, it can take as much as three weeks for all the allergy symptoms to subside.
- If eliminating dairy does nothing to improve your baby’s condition, move to the next allergen.
- Remove soy from your diet.
- If you find it too confusing, we recommend keeping a food diary.
- Make a note of everything you eat and then make a note of your baby’s symptoms.
- A food diary comes handy if you are trying to find the allergen causing your little one such discomfort.
- Some unfortunate mothers have babies who are allergic to multiple foods.
- If that is the case, you can try an elimination diet.
- Some experts recommend eliminating all allergenic food for a couple of weeks and then adding them back gradually.
- An elimination diet can be very time-consuming and challenging, but it is the best way to pinpoint the allergen that is causing your baby’s allergic symptoms.
- Or you can try a rotation diet.
- A rotation diet allows you to eat the allergenic food on a rotational basis. That is, you can eat the food once, and then eat it again after a period of three to seven days.
- With trial and error, you can figure out what exactly in your diet is causing your baby’s allergic symptoms. If you notice your infant in discomfort after breastfeeding, look back on what you had to eat recently.
- If it was dairy, then you can help your baby by eliminating dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, etc. from your diet. But don’t worry. This is just a temporary situation. You can go back to your usual diet once you wean your baby or when your baby is a little older and can tolerate dairy protein.
[ Read: Food Allergies In Babies ]
Why Not Stop Breastfeeding?
It is normal to feel frustrated when the milk you are making for your baby just doesn’t seem to make him happy and healthy. Changing one’s diet radically can be a difficult task. That is why it is entirely human to want to quit breastfeeding and give your baby some formula instead.
But here is the thing – formula is an excellent alternative to breast milk, but it cannot replace the real thing! There are many benefits of feeding your baby breast milk.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Babies:
Here are the significant benefits of breastfeeding for your baby:
1. Keeps The Immune System Healthy:
A healthy immune system equals a healthy baby. It is a proven fact that babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from common ailments like flu, cold, pneumonia, and ear infections.
2. Good For Long Term Health:
Breastfeeding is not just about giving your baby short term health benefits! Breastmilk can also go a long way in protecting your baby from chronic diseases like diabetes, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
3. Less Risk Of SIDS:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is a heartbreaking cause of death among infants. Numerous babies lose their life, and their parents are left with no closure because there is no apparent cause of death in such cases (thus the name). But breastfeeding can help lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
4. Lowers Risk Of Childhood Cancer:
Breastmilk can reduce the likelihood of childhood cancer among kids.
5. Prevents Allergies:
Ironically, breastmilk and breastfeeding can lower the chances of babies developing allergies! It is proven that babies who get breastmilk regularly are less likely to develop childhood allergies.
6. Prevents Obesity:
Studies show that babies who are fed on breastmilk are less likely to become obese as they grow up.
7. Controls Blood Pressure:
If you breastfeed your baby, you can rest assured that your baby will have lower blood pressure than those who were formula-fed when young.
8. Makes Babies More Intelligent:
According to research, breastfed babies have better cognitive abilities compared with their formula fed counterparts.
9. Manage Mental Health Issues Better:
Evidence shows that breastmilk can go a long way in keeping mental health issues at bay as babies grow into adults.
10. Develops Self Confidence:
Breastfed babies are self-assertive and confident, according to research.
11. Increases Vaccine Effectiveness:
Breastmilk helps babies react more favorably to vaccines and increase the vaccine’s effectiveness.
12. Works As A Pain Reliever:
Breastmilk contains endorphins that work as a natural pain reliever for babies.
13. Better Dental Health:
If your baby is breastfed, he is less likely to develop dental health issues like cavities.
[ Read: Milk Allergy in Infants ]
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Moms:
Not just babies, breastfeeding, is also great for moms! Here are some incredible benefits of breastfeeding for moms:
1. Helps Lose Pregnancy Weight:
Breastfeeding is an excellent way to lose all that stubborn pregnancy weight.
2. Prevents Osteoporosis:
Women who breastfeed can absorb calcium better from their diet. This ensures that they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis later in life.
3. Reduces Risk Of Cancer:
Breastfeeding moms are less likely to develop breast, uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancer.
4. Prevents PPD:
Post Partum Depression (PPD) can be devastating for new moms. Fortunately, breastfeeding can lower the chances of developing PPD and help new mothers create healthier bonds with their newborns.
5. Prevents Pregnancy:
Breastfeeding works as a great ovulation inhibitor and can help prevent future unwanted pregnancies. But please do remember, that the only way to be sure that you don’t get pregnant is by using protection like birth control pills or condoms.
6. Lowers Chances Of Anemia:
Women who breastfeed are less likely to develop anemia while nursing.
[ Read: Lactose Intolerance In Infants ]
General Benefits Of Breastfeeding:
Some other Benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding include:
1. Free Food:
Breastmilk is free food for babies! For women who cannot afford to buy formula, breastmilk is the perfect source of nutrition for their babies.
2. Less Strain On Tax Payers:
Breastfed babies are less likely to fall ill and put a strain on public healthcare.
3. A Great Cure For Eye Infections:
Squirt a little breastmilk on an infected eye and watch it do its magic! Breastmilk contains natural antibiotic qualities and can help treat mild cases of eye infections.
Ways To Make Breast milk Healthier:
So, breastmilk is great for health, but that does not take away the fact that it can cause some babies some discomfort. Is there a way to ensure a healthier supply of breast milk? Yes, there are!
Here are some things you can do to improve the quality of your breast milk:
1. Eat Well:
The main thing you need to do to ensure that your baby is getting all the right nutrients is to eat well.
- Make sure to consume 500 more calories every day.
- Don’t eat empty calories through junk food, though.
- Opt for healthier foods like lean meats, dairy, eggs, and beans.
- Your diet should also include a good amount of healthy vegetables, fruits, and grains.
2. Get Supplements:
Talk to your doctor about getting vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Get your vitamin A, D, B6, and B12 levels checked.
- Any deficiency in these vitamins can cause problems, not just for you but also your baby.
3. Get Enough Fluids:
When you are breastfeeding, you need to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
- Try to drink water after each feeding session.
- Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine-laden beverages.
- Do not drink and breastfeed! Alcohol and breastfeeding do not work well together.
Breastmilk is natural and one hundred percent safe for babies. If your baby is reacting adversely after breastfeeding, the chances are that the cause lies in your diet! So, don’t quit on breastfeeding yet! With a little patience, you can provide your child with the best possible nutrition without causing any discomfort! But if you are still wary of breastfeeding your baby, do talk to an expert.
Did your baby show an allergic reaction to breast milk? What symptoms did he present? Share your experience with us!
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