Allergies and Baby Breastfeeding

Overview

Many parents of breastfed babies, or parents who plan to breastfeed their babies, worry about the impact of breastfeeding as it relates to allergies. Additionally, mothers who suffer from food and seasonal allergies have concerns about allergy treatment while breastfeeding. Understanding the relationship between allergies and breastfeeding is important in order to take appropriate measures that can potentially benefit your health and that of your baby.

Improving Mother’s Health

Many are of the opinion that breastfeeding may help decrease a mother’s allergy symptoms, according to AskDr.Sears.com, because it is known to stimulate the production of hormones that have a calming effect on the body. Allergies and asthma that are often exacerbated during times of stress are therefore subdued thanks to breastfeeding. Unfortunately, this calming effect only lasts as long as a mother continues to breastfeed, and allergic reactions will likely return to normal once a baby is weaned.

Allergy Medications and Breastfeeding

Prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications commonly used to manage allergy symptoms are safe to take while breastfeeding. Antihistamines, decongestants, cortisone sprays and tablets are all included in this listing.

Asthma Medications and Breastfeeding

Many women find that asthma symptoms worsen during peak allergy seasons. According to AskDr.Sears.com, asthma medications containing albuterol are considered safe for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Doctor’s recommend taking any medication with albuterol in inhalant form, because less of the medication gets absorbed into the mother’s blood stream that ultimately travels into the milk supply.

Food Allergies & Genetics

Like hair and eye color, a propensity toward food allergies can also be inherited. It is for this reason the La Leche League International website recommends those who have food allergies on either side avoid the foods that cause allergic reactions during breastfeeding. The League also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (with only hypoallergenic formula as a supplement when necessary) to improve a child’s chances for avoiding inherited food allergies. It should be noted, however, that once the child reaches the age of two the risk of allergies may increase as a result of breastfeeding.

Identifying Food Allergies

BabyFit.com states that vomiting, diarrhea, rash, irritability, gas or blood in the stool are all symptoms of a potential food allergy. Because it can take as long as two weeks for an allergic irritant to clear out of the mother’s system, in order to identify and isolate a food allergy it is necessary to eliminate the suspected food(s) from the diet for two weeks. Once two weeks have elapsed parents must monitor the child to note any positive changes or symptom reduction. The next step is to reintroduce foods one by one, carefully watching for symptoms that may recur. It will also be necessary to discuss your suspicions with your child’s pediatrician.

About this Author

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years’ experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine “My School Rocks” and Work.com. Franco has a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland, and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.