Is your baby getting fussy while nursing? Are you poured with suggestions from all fronts to cut down on your dairy? Chances are that these suggestions are in the right direction and your baby might be experiencing a reaction to milk or other dairy products. However, do not feel disappointed if the allergy is related to cow’s milk, there are high chances that your baby will outgrow it and would be able to once again tolerate this protein by age 3.
All you need to do is to be watchful for any signs of milk allergy and dairy intolerance in your baby; so that you can take necessary actions. In this article, we will take you through all these signs and symptoms of allergies and intolerances and we will try to figure out how good it is to have dairy while breastfeeding?
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What Is Dairy Allergy In Breastfed Babies?
When you eat a food, it gets digested before it turns into breast milk. However, in certain cases such as some proteins; (the one found in milk or egg ) digestion does not occur and they enter the breast milk unchanged. The reason for this is said to be preparing the baby for what he may be eating later in his life. Dairy intolerance or allergy is said to occur when the baby reacts adversely to these dairy proteins in mother’s milk.
Dairy While Breastfeeding: Is It Good For The Baby?
There is no denying to the fact that much of the food that you eat travels to your breast milk. However, most of the babies never develop a sensitivity or reaction to any of the foods that form a part of their mother’s diet. Though a small percentage might develop allergic reactions. NCBI also reports that the breastfed infant can be affected by dairy products ingested by the mother and eliminated in her breast milk. When it comes to allergies in breastfeeding babies, it’s milk protein allergy or cow’s milk allergy that ranks first. Cow’s milk allergy in breastfed infants can go as high as 2.1% reports a trial.
Signs Of Dairy Allergy In Breastfed Babies
Intestinal or stomach problems such as green poop, black poop, diarrhoea, reflux and mucus spit up, constipation, flatulence, tummy ache etc.
‣ Skin issues such as dry and patchy skin, eczema, pale skin or rashes.
‣ Sometimes milk allergy may manifest as breathing problems like wheezing, persistent cough, frequent ear infections etc.
‣ Other sign of dairy sensitivity could include baby’s scream or cry when brought near to breast for feeding or after feeding.
Dairy Intolerance And Lactose Intolerance - Are They The Same?
“No” they are not. Though they often appear similar and affect the digestive system, they are actually two very different entities. A dairy intolerance means an adverse reaction after consumption of dairy products, often because of following reasons
‣ Chemical sensitivity
‣ Reaction to milk protein casein and whey (milk protein allergy)
‣ Allergy to naturally occuring hormones of dairy and its products
‣ Inability to break down some of the constituents of dairy because you lack some enzyme like lactase.
Lactose intolerance is very specifically related to enzyme lactase. We all produce an enzyme called lactase which is responsible for breaking down of lactose in simple forms so that it can be absorbed easily. Lactose is the naturally occurring sugar which is present in milk and other dairy products.
[Read More: How to deal with lactose intolerance in babies?]
Is My Baby Lactose Intolerant?
“No”. Not Necessarily; because lactose intolerance is very specific reaction of our body towards lactose components of milk whereas dairy intolerance could be towards any component of dairy like some chemicals, hormones or lactose itself. And, as a matter of fact lactose intolerance is hardly a problem in babies when they react to dairy. Babies react mostly to the protein found in cow’s milk entering through mom’s milk and not the sugar (lactose ) present in milk. Lactose intolerance is typically seen in older kids and adults.
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms In Breastfed Babies
Though extremely rare, this condition is also known as primary or true lactose intolerance. It is related to genes. The symptoms include:
Difficulty in gaining weight right from birth
Symptoms of dehydration and malabsorption
This comes under medical emergency and baby is generally guided for diet under medical supervision.
Secondary lactose intolerance also is known as lactose overload is temporary, common, and is caused because of damages in the gut lining such as some parasitic infection. Once the cause is taken care the intolerance is overcome. Symptoms include:
‣ Frothy, watery and green stool
‣ Flatulence and gas
‣ Stomach pain
‣ Other digestive troubles
*If you think that your baby is showing signs of dairy sensitivity or dairy intolerance, do seek medical advice. Discuss all symptoms of your baby in length with him.
Can I Continue Breastfeeding If My Child Is Sensitive To Dairy?
Yes, you can. You need not stop breastfeeding because you suspect milk allergy or milk protein allergy in your baby. You can stop drinking cow’s milk and see what changes it brings in the baby. If the symptoms are very severe then you might have to stop consuming all dairy and its products. Keep a track of your baby's weight when you try doing so. You should be seeing improvements in the condition of your baby in a few weeks. However, if you are not able to see any difference even after two weeks of your dairy-free diet than probably it’s not a milk allergy. Seek medical help, your doctor should be able to guide you better in this regard.
Management Of Milk Allergy In Breastfed Babies
NCBI recommends avoiding allergens while maintaining a balanced diet for the mothers. It suggests continuing breastfeeding if allergens are avoided by mothers. Many others refer to this approach as an elimination diet approach i.e to eliminate trigger foods causing allergy.
NCBI also states that milk protein allergy can be managed successfully with the support of a dietitian and a specialist in case of severe allergies.
Another theory suggests healing the mother’s gut with the correct diet. This would make her breast milk less inflammatory and in turn would help the baby do away with allergies and intolerances.
In the majority of the cases consuming dairy while you are breastfeeding is considered to be safe and good for the baby. However, in a small percentage, it might trigger some allergic reactions and intolerances. Most of these sensitivities and allergies can be dealt with simple dietary modifications of the mother. In some specific conditions where the symptoms are very severe, it is advisable to seek medical advice.