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Is Your Baby Allergic To Breast Milk?

Updated on August 6, 2019
Mayashappyplace profile image

Maya is a blogger for Maya's Happy Place with almost four decades of personal experiences with rare and common allergies.

Breast milk allergy symptoms include reddened skin, sweating, rash and colic.
Breast milk allergy symptoms include reddened skin, sweating, rash and colic. | Source

Does Breast Milk Allergy Exist?

All you want is some kind of relief for your baby's eczema. The infant rash symptoms are all too clear and you will do anything to alleviate your baby's allergic reactions to what seem like is from your breast milk. Not so fast!

According to doctors, actual allergy to breast milk does not exist (although at first, it might appear to be the problem).

If your baby is allergic to cow's milk, your infant can react to the cow's milk proteins from your diet. The same thing can happen for other foods that the baby is allergic to, such as peanuts, soy or eggs. Food allergens can remain intact as proteins in the mother's breast milk.

Baby eczema that you might think is from your breast milk could be occurring due to other factors as well, so its important to cover all your bases and omit anything you think is suspect.

Many babies that are allergic to cow's milk proteins are also allergic to soy proteins. Babies that are especially sensitive to soy will be allergic to soy oil as well, so read formula labels very carefully if you choose to go that route.

Food Allergy Symptoms in Breastfed Infants

A food allergy reaction compromises the immune system by flooding the body with histamines and other chemicals when an allergen enters the gastrointestinal tract or is even inhaled (such as with peanut dust) which causes a plethora of symptoms. Most people experience similar symptoms of food allergies, whether you are an infant or adult. The most visual food allergy symptoms are hives and rashes. The physical symptoms of food allergies include severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can include bloody stools. In adults, food allergies can cause hormonal changes which cause yeast infections due to PH changes. In babies, food allergy symptoms are more likely to also include colic-like symptoms such as vomiting and even diaper rash due to baby yeast infection, which is sometimes caused by candida albicans. Candida comes from unhealthy gut flora and compromised immune system.

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Can I Make My Breast Milk Hypo-Allergenic?

You can get to the root of the problem by eliminating one thing from your diet at a time to see how your baby reacts. For example, for one week you will eliminate dairy completely from your diet. You will know within a couple of days if cow's milk is the culprit because your baby's symptoms will greatly diminish.

The more severe the baby allergy symptoms, the longer it will take for your baby to heal. Keep in mind that foods stay in the body for about a month, so even though you might not be eating the culprit, your infant could still be cranky or need more sleep due to an allergic reaction two weeks ago. This is because it takes about thirty days for a food to fully leave the digestive tract.

If cow's milk turns out to be the culprit and you want to continue to breastfeed, you will need to figure out whether you can continue to completely eliminate dairy from your diet. If this is too difficult, you will have to find a dairy-free formula to feed your baby; steer toward the ones with the least amount of soy oil to avoid a possible reaction to that. If you suspect soy, note that soy is in pretty much everything, so you might want to opt for the formula in this case, too unless you want to attempt to avoid all soy derivatives. In that case, I applaud your vigilance wholeheartedly since I know very well that is no easy feat.

If cow's milk does not seem to be the culprit, start by cutting out peanuts or nuts in general. Since nuts have a high reputation for severe anaphylaxis reactions, the proteins could easily be transferred through your milk. Eliminate nuts for one week and see if it makes a difference.

I am not a doctor, so be sure to speak to your pediatrician about your infant's allergy symptoms first before doing anything I suggest. If your baby's symptoms are severe and include asthma or trouble breathing, go to the hospital immediately since this reaction could signify a fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock which could lead to cardiac arrest.

Breast Milk Alternatives

If your baby is experiencing severe allergy symptoms and you cannot give up the likely culprit in your diet, you can start feeding your baby infant formula.

  • If you suspect infant cow's milk allergy, Enfamil's Nutramigen Infant Formula is very popular, although it contains 19.5% soy oil. Careful monitoring during and after feedings will inform you whether soy should be avoided as well.

  • If you suspect soy allergy and find it very difficult to give up soy in your diet (which it is), Similac Expert Care Alimentum in powder form contains 8% soy oil while the Ready To Feed bottles contain only 2%.

Other formula options if there seems to be no soy or milk allergy detected include Neocate, Similac Advance, Isomil and Prosobee.

Caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Opt for better sleep and nutrition instead!
Caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Opt for better sleep and nutrition instead! | Source

How To Improve Immune System During Breastfeeding

The immune system doesn't just help your body fight off colds and viruses. If your immune system is at its peak, your breast milk will be healthier for your baby, too. The healthier and more organic diet you have, the less chemicals and toxins in breast milk.

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D Deficiency

Breastfeeding also depletes the body of vitamin D and magnesium, the two most important vitamins for good quality sleep. If you're not getting enough sunlight or vitamin D from foods, you need to replace the D that is lost to avoid vitamin D deficiency symptoms which include depression, dry skin, body aches and sleep disorders. Many people don't realize how important vitamin D is for your body to recover and heal itself during sleep.

Breastfeeding Moms Need Extra Magnesium

Its amazing how much better I felt when I started adding foods with magnesium into my diet. I didn't realize that magnesium helps calm muscles and stress levels. Green leafy vegetables like kale are potent sources of magnesium but a lot of the fun foods like dark chocolate are full of magnesium, too. I'm not talking about the chocolate you can buy at an amusement park. What I'm talking about is chocolate that contains high amounts of cacao. Cocoa from cacao is the pure, least processed form of chocolate. If you buy unsweetened cacao nibs on their own from a health food store, they usually taste bitter on their own. However, you can throw a handful of those nibs into a vanilla homemade smoothie for a potent burst of magnesium as well as all the feel good chemicals cacao will induce!

By making healthy food choices for yourself you can provide optimal breast milk nutrients for your baby which can help boost your energy levels and increase baby's immune system while you figure out the culprit!
By making healthy food choices for yourself you can provide optimal breast milk nutrients for your baby which can help boost your energy levels and increase baby's immune system while you figure out the culprit! | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Maya Marcotte


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    • Mayashappyplace profile imageAUTHOR

      Maya Marcotte 

      7 years ago from NY

      Thank you, Doreen! Yes, I agree...this is especially common for babies. For babies who show no improvement, it is a good idea to eliminate the most common culprits, those being dairy and soy, as you said. Eliminating the Top 8 from your diet is probably extreme, but would easily show which food was the culprit once food was added back one at a time. The only problem with eliminating the Top 8 is making sure that you are still getting the optimal nutrients you need. Of course, it is always best to check with your doctor and follow their protocol before mine or anyone else's.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Maya, I just wanted to comment that it may not always work eliminating one food at a time. If your baby is allergic to more than one food, then eliminating one at a time won't necessarily show any improvement. That being said, dairy and soy are usually the biggest culprits, however, improvements may not be seen until up to five days or more so I usually recommend a two-week elimination.


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