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.
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.
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
Dealing With 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.