Monday, November 26, 2007

Breastfeeding and Food Allergies

I didn't blog last week as I would have liked. Turns out I hate typing on my husbands laptop. So back at the ol' keyboard and I would like to talk about breastfeeding.

A report came out a couple of weeks ago about how breastfeeding reduces food allergy risks.

This was posted on both of the yahoo food allergy support groups I subscribe to. In one of the groups it caused some ranting. Women who breast fed their food allergic children for 3, 5 and even 13 months felt frustrated that this is the information out there and it didn't do a darn thing for their children. I on the other had was frustrated with their frustration. I guess it just bugs me when something doesn't work for someone and they feel they can throw up their hands and say "Hooey!"

One woman sited another study which showed exclusive breastfeeding for the first nine months or more increased food allergy risk and sited this as the reason she was weaning her five month old. I think the key word in this study is "exclusive" which to me says it isn't the breastfeeding that is the problem it is not introducing solid foods within a certain time frame.

Breastfeeding is good for so many other reasons whether or not your child has, will have or won't have food allergies. And we can't look at either of these studies as the be all and end all. Yes, it is frustrating that our kids have food allergies but no one is out there pointing their fingers at us and saying "Well, you must not have breastfed them long enough." Food allergies are one big puzzle and if the breastfeeding puzzle doesn't fit for you that doesn't mean it doesn't fit for someone else. I see no reason for half of the group to stand up and say "I breastfed for 3 months and it didn't help my child's food allergies at all!"

I breast fed Max for 13 months and Owen for 22 months. I didn't do it either times because it "may" reduce their risk of food allergies. I did do other things however that I felt may help. I took a probiotic while I was pregnant and while nursing. Both our last pediatrician and our current allergist sited a study in one of the Scandinavian countries about probiotics significantly cutting the risks of food allergies. I also didn't eat peanut while pregnant or nursing Owen (did with Max and you know where that got us).

I'd like to point out another study regarding c-section's and food allergies. Basically children who were born Cesarean are more likely to have food allergies. It all has to due with the good intestinal flora we have in our guts. It is believed that in a c-section birth this flora is not passed on to the baby. Food allergies are a reaction of our immune system, 90% of which is in our intestines. Hence, the use of probiotics to help food allergies.

Max was a c-section. When I got pregnant with Owen I was aware of this study but I didn't have a VBAC JUST because I wanted to reduce food allergies. Other factors had to weigh in. Just as with breastfeeding. Why be frustrated with a study saying breastfeeding helps reduce food allergies? Don't we have enough everyday food allergy issues to be frustrated about? Seems like a waste of energy. Then again, me being frustrated with other people's opinions may also be a waste of energy.


Ariel said...

The studies don't bother me particularly. I nursed until my daughter was past 2, but I really think her allergies are just genetic and there's probably not much I could have done either way. It does kind of bug me, though, when people tell me her allergies are my fault for not nursing long enough, keeping my house too clean (ha!), or not exposing her to enough germs.

All Adither said...

I have to admit that I do sometimes think that if I had just given Max formula instead of nursing him (while eating tons of nuts) that he would be better off. That said, I also tend to believe his allergies stem from his genetic makeup and, perhaps I perpetuated things by eating nuts while nursing him. And perhaps I didn't.

Jess said...

I don't understand how the whole c-sections lead to FA works - At no point in time in your pregnancy (and birth, whether caesarean or vaginal) does your child ever come in contact with your intestines. That one sounds like a load of bunk.