Does Breastfeeding Prevent Food Allergies?
March is National Nutrition Month, and breastmilk provides a wealth of nutritional, immunity, and bonding benefits for mother and child. One common question that parents ask, though, is whether breastfeeding can prevent babies from developing food allergies.
Breastmilk contains food proteins, so if you consume allergenic foods while breastfeeding, your baby will get some exposure to allergens. But does breastfeeding prevent food allergies on its own, or will you need to take other steps to reduce your baby’s food allergy risk?
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Formulated for Baby’s Needs
Breastmilk contains the ideal amount of vitamins, proteins and fats for your baby’s nutritional and developmental needs during his or her first months.
Promotes Brain Development
Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and long chain fatty acids found in breastmilk help promote healthy brain and nervous system development.
Builds Baby’s Immunity
Breastmilk is loaded with important proteins, including secretory IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies, lysozyme, and bifidus factor. These proteins help baby fight off viruses and harmful bacteria.
Oxytocin promotes contraction of the uterus, so it reduces blood loss after delivery and helps the uterus return to its normal size. Oxytocin also plays an important part in mother-infant bonding (it’s often called the “love hormone.”) Thus, breastfeeding is an ideal way to strengthen the attachment between mother and child.
Lowers SIDS Risk
NIH studies show that breastfeeding is connected with a lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
So does breastfeeding actually prevent food allergies?
Because of all the benefits for mother and child, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) affirms that exclusively breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby from birth to 6 months. The AAP also recommends supplementing baby’s first solid foods with breastfeeding starting at 6 months of age and continuing this routine until baby is at least one year old.
However, even though moms pass food proteins to their babies through breastmilk, there is inconclusive evidence to show that breastfeeding alone can help prevent food allergies.
So, to help reduce the risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%, parents should introduce allergenic foods to their baby early and often in addition to breastfeeding. Here’s what parents need to know about early and sustained allergen introduction:
Early allergen introduction:
Introduce allergenic foods between 4-11 months of age, the critical window for allergy prevention as recommended by landmark clinical studies. Scientists believe that a baby’s immune system starts to develop positive or negative responses to food proteins at around 4-11 months of age. Consistently introducing allergenic foods at this time helps promote a positive immune response.
Sustained allergen introduction:
For the best chance of food allergy prevention, feed your baby allergenic foods multiple times a week, for several months. Feeding babies allergenic foods only once or twice is not enough to significantly reduce their food allergy risk. Rather, in the landmark clinical studies, infants consumed allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for 3-6 months (or more).
However, many 4-6 month-olds aren’t ready for solid foods, and infants can be picky eaters. Plus, many mothers choose to exclusively breastfeed their babies until at least 6 months of age. Thus, parents need a solution for early allergen introduction, especially if they exclusively breastfeed their babies.
An All-Natural, Allergist-Developed Solution
A new groundbreaking innovation for early, sustained allergen introduction, has recently been developed. It introduces your baby to peanut, egg, and milk (which represent over 80% of childhood food allergies) in amounts directly based off of the dosing used in landmark clinical studies. It contains only organic, non-GMO peanut, egg, and milk, with no added sugar or artificial additives, so you can feel confident about feeding it to your baby.
This new development, Ready Set Food!, easily dissolves in breastmilk — just mix the daily, premeasured packet with your baby’s bottle. It is a gentle, guided system that allows mothers to continue exclusively breastfeeding, instead of having to introduce solid foods too early or before baby is ready. The system adapts to every feeding routine, while it helps reduce the risk of developing food allergies and gives children a head-start towards an allergy-free future!
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About the Author
Ready Set Food! - Guest Blogger
Ready, Set, Food! was created with all families in mind, by a team of allergists and parents. Recommended by 200+ allergists and pediatricians, this innovative solution was developed to help reduce the risk of developing food allergies.