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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Is My Baby Allergic to My Breast Milk?

With the incidence of food allergies (and the knowledge of such!) on the rise in recent years, it is understandable that moms would be concerned about the possibility of babies being allergic to their breastmilk. Fortunately, this is very rarely the case!

A true inability to digest the galactose in breastmilk is called galactosemia. Galactosemia is a genetic mutation that affects the body’s ability to convert galactose into glucose, and causes the galactose to build up in the blood. Most cases are diagnosed through the newborn screen completed 24-48 hours post-birth (the “heel prick test”). Galactosemia, in the western world, occurs in about one in 40,000 to 60,000 births. It is extremely uncommon, and usually results in jaundice at birth, lethargy, failure to gain weight, and refusal to feed.

Is my baby allergic to my breast milk?

Although galactosemia is extremely rare, it is possible for a baby to be sensitive to foods in their mother’s diet. Fortunately there is no universal list of foods that nursing moms can’t enjoy, and generally moms are able to eat whatever they desire in whatever quantity they desire with no ill effects to baby.

Most babies are not bothered by anything in their mother’s diet.

Is My Baby Allergic to My Breast Milk?

However, sometimes babies experience significant irritability, crying spells, rashes, obvious discomfort, vomiting, stools containing mucus or blood, or a red ring around the anus. Particularly if these symptoms occur or get worse shortly after a feeding, mom may want to look a little more closely at her diet to see if it may be something she is eating that is bothering her little one.

The most common culprit is dairy in the diet. It is generally recommended to remove the suspected allergen for at least 30 days before reintroducing it to see if that is what was causing symptoms in the baby. The reason for waiting so long is because it can take several days for dairy to leave mom’s system (thereby no longer being in her milk), and several days to weeks after that for the dairy to leave the baby’s system. At least a thirty day trial is necessary in order to make sure dairy (or whatever the offender is!) is truly the cause of the symptoms.

Sometimes eliminating obvious dairy (think ice cream, cheese, that tall glass of milk) is enough to quell baby’s discomfort, but it also may be necessary to look for “hidden” dairy in products like breads.

Though the example of dairy is used above since it is the most common allergen in young infants, the principles mentioned can, of course, be applied to any food (eggs, nuts, gluten, etc.) that seem to be bothering the baby.

And even if it turns out that a beloved food is what is causing baby’s discomfort, take heart! The vast majority of these allergens are outgrown, and you may even be able to reintroduce it to your diet a few months down the road, even while still breastfeeding.


Did you have to eliminate any foods for your nursing baby?

Rachel Wideman lives with her husband Andrew. They have a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. She is a registered nurse and enjoys knitting and reading.

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