Breast feeding is the corner stone of child nutrition. It is crucial that parents are given appropriate information and opportunities to help make a decision for breastfeeding in the antenatal period. The word “choice” should be abandoned.
Breastfeeding versus artificial feeding (otherwise known as cows milk formula) are not equal choices. A feeding “decision” needs to be made by the parents on relevant and practical information. Although there may be similarities between breastmilk and artificial feeding in terms of calorie, mineral and vitamin content, there are a large number of other benefits for breastmilk and many other detrimental effects of cows milk. Therefore, a decision is required, not a choice.
Once the decision to breastfeed has been made, the mother will require further information and practical help to initiate and then continue with breastfeeding. Intensive help and support may be needed in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Information of the dollar savings of breastfeeding is helpful.
However, if a decision for artificial bottle feeding has been made, the mother needs help and support with her choice. There are many excellent formula feeds available to choose from. Your baby may need a specialised formula – see link to special formulas.
Recommendation: Plan to breastfeed your child past 6 months if you can. Up to 12 months is good. But sometimes very allergic babies need to be weaned early onto special milk formulas.
Breastfeeding and Food Allergy
But, there are problems with breast feeding when it comes to food allergy. Fragments of all the foods that the beast feeding mother eats will come through into the breast milk in tiny amounts. This is a good thing, as usually this will help the baby develop tolerance to these foods.
But, in a potentially allergy baby, even these tiny amounts can turn into allergic sensitisation and food allergy in the suckling baby. This causes eczema. Sometimes they need to be weaned from the breast to fully recover. Special baby formula is available for this.
A story from Amelia:
Amelia’s mum tells this story: “To begin with, Amelia had dreadful allergies. She had eczema all over her face, so it looked like she had slapped cheeks all the time. She was just miserable with trying to scratch. We brought her to see Dr Ford and she got skin-prick tested. We discovered that she was allergic to dairy, peanuts and eggs.”
“So, I started taking those foods out of her diet – well out of my diet mainly, because I was still breastfeeding her. Of course, I removed any traces of these foods from her diet as well – whatever she was eating. Because at that stage she wouldn’t eat solids.”
“When I was still breastfeeding, her eczema improved – it began to clear up almost straight away. But the trouble was that her weight gain wasn’t happening and she wasn’t eating any solids. Although I had taken these foods out of my diet, unfortunately, there must still have been traces of some trouble foods going through my breast milk.”
“She didn’t get fully better until she went onto the special low allergen milk (Neocate) – not long after that she started eating solids. As soon as she was on this strict diet, her growth came back up. And best of all, now her skin is beautifully clear and we don’t have to use any creams on her at all. She is also gaining in weight! Fantastic!”
In the picture, you can see the eczema appearing on this child’s face. This is how food allergy happens through the breast milk. The usual food culprits are milk, egg, peanut, cashew, soy and wheat. If mum avoids the allergic foods, the eczema will clear up within a week or so.
It is a good idea to get these babies skin prick tested for food allergy. Then you will know what foods are causing the allergic reactions. Have a look at the skin prick test results on this baby who was best fed.