Thursday, February 10, 2011

Should Mom’s Breastfeed to Avoid Food Allergies?

Breastfeeding an infantI recently came across a poll at MedPage Today which asked doctors and health care professionals whether they recommended breastfeeding for six months, or whether solid foods should be introduced earlier. The poll was sparked by research that suggests that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months might have higher occurrences of food allergies.

That’s right, some researchers are now saying that breastfeeding too long – or more specifically, not introducing the proteins in solid foods before six months of age – may actually cause food allergies. The studies which were done in the U.K. and reported on in the UK Guardian, also note that rates of celiac disease increased in Sweden following advice to delay introducing foods containing gluten until six months.

The World Health Organization announced in 2001 that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months was optimal, and they are sticking by their opinion. Note that none of the parties are suggesting that breastfeeding is bad, and all agree that milk from the mother is best (as opposed to formula or cow’s milk).

So what’s a mother to do?

Did you breastfeed your food-allergic child? If so, for how long?


Flo said...

I breastfed my son for 14 months. I introduced solids (rice cereal mixed with breast milk) when he was 6 months old. He is now 3 and a half and is allergic to eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat... Thanks for your blog!

Abby said...

I started out trying to breastfeed supplementing with formula when we were out in public, but because of the allergies to milk that we didn't know existed, by one month old he refused bottles all together. I didn't have a choice but to exclusively breastfeed. I was finally advised to stop once we found out about all the allergies he had because what I was eating was making him sick. He had lost four pounds in a month on breastmilk alone because the allergies had kicked into full gear. So we had to switch him to Alimentum at 7 months.

Colette said...

Abby and Flo, thanks for sharing your experiences. Flo -- your son's allergies are exactly the same as mine!

Abby, I tried every formula there was. We didn't figure out his food allergies until much later.

Flo said...

Thomas' allergies to milk and eggs were very obvious the first time we gave him a yogurt and, later on, some eggs (the yogurt came right back and he got a rash around the mouth after he ate the eggs). We found out about wheat, soy and peanuts after we had him tested because he had not gained any weight at the 18 month check up, and because he just really disliked eating (no wonder!)

Rida said...

I was wondering if you might make discussion of any research you have uncovered in the vein of the FAAN report regarding the mental toll food allergies might impact on suffers. Myoril OnlineSpecifically I recently read a article that discussed the findings of a study which examined food allergy suffers perception of their quality of life.