Welcome to my Weblog!
Welcome to 1 Mother 2 Another! To read my most recent weblog entries, scroll down. To read entries from one category, click the links at right. To read my journey from the beginning, click here. To find out more about me, click here.
Top 5s
Short on time? Click here to go to my Top 5s Page - links to my top five recommendations in every category from Breastfeeding Sites to Urban Living Solutions.

Infant Food Allergies

Last week’s poll was about food allergies and your infant. Did your baby show any signs of a having food allergy, either to something in your breastmilk or formula, or in solid foods?

The only two infant allergies reported were evenly split – soy and dairy. Not surprisingly, these are two of the most common allergies in babies and toddlers. Unfortunately, these two foods are in everything, under a variety of disguises, making them almost impossible to avoid.

The good news about food allergies in infants is that it’s almost always outgrown: the vast majority of infants with allergies will go on to be food allergy-free as adults, usually outgrowing their allergy by 2 or 3 years old. The exceptions to that, unfortunately, are peanuts, tree nuts, shell fish, and fish: those are rarely outgrown.

The bad news about infant food allergies is that it’s a pain in the butt. When Maddie was only four weeks old our pediatrician told us that in addition to having infant reflux, Madeleine seemed to be allergic to something in my breastmilk. So I had to go on an elimination diet, cutting out one food at a time and waiting a few days to figure out what it was. While eliminating dairy from my diet, I added more nuts in for extra protein, which is how we found out the hard way that Maddie was allergic to the nuts. Not pretty. And my girlfriend Abby had to cut all soy out of her diet with her youngest son; the teeniest bit made him incredibly unhappy and gave him bloody stool.

Which leads me back to my first comment – cutting diary or soy out is almost impossible. There’s even soy in chocolate, for heaven’s sake! And dairy – while something may be lactose free, that doesn’t make it free of the dairy protein that actually causes the food allergy. And dairy proteins are in everything.

See, there’s a difference between food allergies – having an immune system reaction to a food, where your body mistakenly believes it’s harmful – and a food intolerance. A food intolerance is a part of the body’s inability to tolerate something in the food, like lactose in milk. Someone with a lactose intolerance may feel bloating or cramping from drinking a glass of milk, but someone with a dairy allergy may experience a severe rash, vomiting, a fever, you name it.

So there are a couple reasons you’re asked to wait to introduce foods with a high likelihood of an allergic response. First, if your child’s most likely to outgrow it, you want to give that body a fighting chance to do so. Feeding an infant solid foods with proteins such as dairy, wheat, or soy before the intestinal lining is mature can allow food allergens to seep into the bloodstream. Baby will build up antibodies to these allergens and become allergic later on. Make sense?

Second, if your child’s going to have a serious reaction to a food – say, go into anaphylactic shock from peanut butter – a three-year-old’s body will handle it better than a six-month-old’s. So follow your pediatrician’s guidelines for introducing high allergy foods.

And that means you have to be a bit vigilant about what food you offer your baby, even if it’s manufactured specifically for him. For some insane reason, Gerber either doesn’t know or chooses not to pay attention to common food allergy guidelines, and they’ve got several common allergy ingredients in their early foods. Their supposedly single-grain cereals – oatmeal, rice, and barley – all contain soy! So some poor mom gives her six-month-old rice cereal, baby has a reaction, and mom’s convinced her child is allergic to rice.

Gerber also introduces inappropriate foods in their Stage 2 and 3 line. Strawberries, raspberries, corn, wheat, and dairy are all found in several of their selections, and all are recommended to be introduced somewhere between 10 and 12 months or later, whereas we know most moms will be moving to Stage 2 foods somewhere between 7 and 8 months! I have yet to figure this company and their irresponsibility out in this area.

I’m sure you’ve heard that breastfeeding has been proven to lower allergies in children both in infancy and later on. I don’t think anyone disputes that breastmilk is preferable to formula if possible. But if it’s not an option, just be aware that the formula itself may cause a reaction in your baby, so you might need to discuss a hypo-allergenic formula (translation: expensive) with your pediatrician.

And interestingly enough, I’ve read a few articles reporting that babies born by c-section are more likely to have food allergies than babies born vaginally. Doctors seem to think that c-sections delay the growth of healthy bacteria in a baby’s intestines, making them more susceptible later on. And since Maddie was c-section . . .

Bottom line, though, if your child’s got a food allergy, don’t fret too much that she’ll be forever banned from the chocolate aisle. She’ll most likely outgrow it in plenty of time for her first period. And if you haven’t gotten there yet with your newborn, I suggest you read up – I’ve linked to some helpful sites below that will give you the scoop on when to introduce what, symptoms of food allergies, etc.

Good luck, moms!

Ask Dr. Sears – allergy section
Wholesome Baby Food – allergy section
Article on c-sections and food allergies 


Post a Comment

House Rules

Here are the rules for posting comments on 1mother2another.com. Posting a comment that violates these rules will result in the comment’s deletion, and you’ll probably be banned from commenting in the future.

1) Register first. If you would like to post a comment, you must create an account with us. Check out the home page to do so.

2) Constructive comments only. If you cannot maintain a respectful tone in your posting, even in disagreement, your comment will be deleted. We’re all trying to find our way in this thing and are struggling to be the best moms we can. If you disagree with something I say, feel free to politely email me. If you disagree with another reader’s posting, you’re welcome to kindly post in reply. Vitriolic diatribes will be deleted. This site is about encouraging and supporting, not tearing down and chastising.

3) Questions welcomed. If an entry raises a question, you’re welcome to email me directly or post it. Keep in mind that postings will result in public replies by strangers and not just me.

4) Don’t steal. All original writings contained within this website are under copyright protection. If you link to us, please credit us as your source and provide a link back to our website. If you're interested in using an excerpt in published material, please contact us.

5) Share your photos! We'd love to have photos from our registered readers to show on our home page under "Maddie's friends". Email us a jpeg of your little one's best photo to photos@1mother2another.com. Please, no photos from professional photographers which fall under copyright protection.