Allergies and the Breastfeeding Families

Posted on: Sun, 02/14/1999 - 11:56am
Nicole's picture
Joined: 01/21/1999 - 09:00

Hello ~

I thought I would attach an interesting section of the La Leche League's website entitled, "Allergies and the Breastfeeding Families". As I scanned the article, I didn't notice any mention of peanuts as a life threatening allergy.

I am not a nursing mother but I did nurse my son for 18 months. I don't belong to La Leche League so I don't have any connections with them now.

Has anyone ever tried to contact them? And what was the response?



[This message has been edited by Nicole (edited February 14, 1999).]

Posted on: Sun, 02/14/1999 - 12:32pm
CB's picture
Joined: 01/17/1999 - 09:00

<p>Hi Nicole<br />
Interstingly enough, my oldest who is 14 and has no food allergies was bottle fed. My 4 yrold who was nursed has a life threatening allergy to peanutbutter/peanuts and other food allergies.<br />
Although i did not belong to any support group, I do question the term "breast is best". Keeping in mind that i am aware that the allergy will rear its ugly head regardless of the childs' start in life</p>

Posted on: Mon, 02/15/1999 - 12:39pm
Nicole's picture
Joined: 01/21/1999 - 09:00

<p>Hi CB ~</p>
<p>I failed to mention that my 12 year old was bottle fed and doesn't have any allergies either. I do think that our kids are predisposed for these allergies and breast or bottle feeding them may or may not have made a difference. My point in this is that I wish my OB would have cautioned me against eating nuts and I wish my Pediatrican had cautioned me against feeding my infant/toddler nut products too early. Word is out on honey and infants...hopefully the nut/peanut issue will travel fast and new mothers and fathers won't have to deal with this.</p>
<p>We share similar stories I think. Thanks for sharing.</p>

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/1999 - 4:58am
tracy's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

<p>I breastfed my child for a year. When he had a allergic reaction after eating a peanut butter cookie, we took him to an allergist who told me that I probably sensitized him with my breastmilk. (I did eat peanut butter while I was nursing.)</p>
<p>I've since done a lot of asking around and I'm not so sure that there's a direct link -- in other words, my breastfeeding did not cause him to have a peanut allergy. Several allergists have said my son would probably have developed a peanut allergy sooner or later, that he was genetically predisposed. And an allergist friend told me last night that it would have been impossible to avoid everything that he might have been allergic to because we have no way of knowing. For my son it was peanuts, for another child, it may be milk. So should I give up everything but rice to avoid sensitizing my baby? That's not a good idea. (I will, however, give up peanuts if I ever get pregnant again.)</p>
<p>I'm hoping that my breasfeeding is helping him deal better with an unfortunate allergy that he would have had anyway. Perhaps his immune system and defense mechanisms are stronger for it and the allergy would have been worse without breastfeeding. I can only hope I helped him, rather than hurt him.</p>
<p>My lactation consultant said that for babies who have eczema, breastfeeding definitely helps -- she's had clients who have switched to formula and the children's eczema problems have gotten worse.</p>

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/1999 - 11:57am
Mary Catherine's picture
Joined: 01/25/1999 - 09:00

<p>When GUILT set in when I found out that breastfeeding my child had predisposed him to a peanut allergy, I called the La Leche League. They did not want to give me the time of day to discuss this issue. This was four years ago. And although I believe that there must be a genetic predisposition to this allergy as in any other condition, I think that his allergy is severe because I did not avoid peanuts during lactation. The peanut protein, I was told by an MD, does pass through a mother's milk.</p>

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/1999 - 12:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

<p>Hi everyone,</p>
<p>I breastfed both of my children, ages 8 and 4. My daughter (8)has no known food allergies and my son, who has eczema,is also peanut anaphylactic. I ate peanut products with both of them. My husband also has eczema and there is a history of asthma in his family. I think you all are right...if you are going to get it, you're going to get it regardless. I don't think there is really an easy answer to any of it.</p>

Posted on: Wed, 02/17/1999 - 1:48pm
Noreen's picture
Joined: 01/24/1999 - 09:00

<p>Mary Catherine wrote:</p>
<p>"When GUILT set in when I found out that breastfeeding my child had predisposed him to a peanut allergy, I called the La Leche League. They did not want to give me the time of day to discuss this issue. "</p>
<p>I am not surprised you received such a reaction from LLL. I have found LLL does its best to minimize any possible difficulties or criticisms about "breast is best." In fact, I'm cynical enough about LLL to believe that even if it were proven that mothers predisposed to allergies could pass on a life-threatening peanut allergy to their infants through breastmilk, they would emphatically deny it.</p>
<p>I don't think we have anything to feel guilty about even if we did cause this allergy in our children through breastfeeding. Not one of us would have eated peanut products if we had known. But we didn't know. It's all history and now we deal with the situation at hand. </p>
<p>A good place to get the information out is on the breastfeeding Usenet groups as well as Any other ideas on how we can inform others? </p>

Posted on: Wed, 02/17/1999 - 2:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

<p>Hi Noreen, </p>
<p>You are right...not one of us would have eaten peanut products had we known it could have hurt our children. By breastfeeding, we thought we were doing the best for our children. Right now, word of mouth is how I let others know to be careful.</p>

Posted on: Thu, 02/18/1999 - 2:58am
Cynthia's picture
Joined: 02/04/1999 - 09:00

<p>Nicole;<br />
I truly believe allergies will occur mostly as a result of genetic disposition. I am 35 and severly PA and have been for my entire life. My first son is 5 1/2 and was diagnosed with PA by skin test at 3. He never consumed any peanut products nor did he receive any in utero. I did have one allergic reaction however I believe it was to sesame. Who knows! I also exclusively breastfed him for 4 monthes and continued to breastfeed for a year. The allergist was quite baffled. I also went on a restictive diet while i was nursing him to try to control his eczma and nasal congestion: no real success. My second son only has eczema and is not allergic to peanuts. My 5 month old son is following in his brothers footsteps. I am exclusively breastfeeding him and and have recently gone on a very strict diet; no dailry products, eggs, shellfish, fish and of course I cannot eat peanuts or nuts. I must admit that his nasal congestion is better than it was a month ago. His eczema is still the same. It will be interesting to see if he will be PA. There is PA and eczema on my husbands side of the family as well.<br />
I do believe that breastfeeding is best nut we cannot feel guilty for our childrens allergies. We still do not know everything! Cynthia........... </p>

Posted on: Thu, 02/18/1999 - 3:28am
Patti's picture
Joined: 01/27/1999 - 09:00

<p>I had not read this discussion before, but when I was posting to another board, it dawned on me that I should write here too. I DID NOT breastfeed Katherine, now age 3. She has a severe peanut allergy. I may have eaten peanut butter when I was pregnant, but I also did that with my two sons who are not peanut allergic. My pediatric allergist yesterday was surprised that I did not breastfeed because her score was so high. But I wanted to let you guilty feeling breastfeeding mothers that I wouldn;t beat yourself up over it. Because I believe its in your genes to be allergic or not and thats it. I do agree that I think Pediatricians and OBs should warn about giving peanut products to children who are young. I did not introduce Kahterine to peanut products at an early age because we had other allergies with my other children so I had all ready researched allergies and knew peanuts were a big no-no. Any way she is still severely allergic and I think she was always going to be. I would in hindsite though not eaten peanut products while pregnant. Hope this makes you feel better. We have to feel bad about it but I wouldn't blame yourself for it.</p>

Posted on: Thu, 02/18/1999 - 11:26am
Janet Laflamme's picture
Joined: 02/08/1999 - 09:00

<p>My 6 year old son who was allergic to milk, and milk products,citrus( outgrew by 4th birthday) and who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts (cashews specifically), eggs, and penicillin had a reaction on his first accidental exposure to peanuts. Our allergist said that since his "first exposure " caused a reaction it wasn't really his first exposure. I'm sure you all can guess what my favorite food used to be. I ate peanut butter several times a week during the entire pregnancy in 1993. My son rejected breast feeding after 10 days, developed severe exzema, screamed with colic for 5 months,and ended up on the formula called Alimentum. It took me two years of dietary restrictions to get this poor child feeling good (normal crying spells only)and to clear up his skin ( eczema and hives) for the most part.<br />
Shortly before his 3rd birthday I found out I was pregnant again. Just as a precaution I ate no peanuts or tree nuts during the pregnancy and during breast feeding. My second son, who was breast fed for 5 months, has had none of these problems. No milk allergy, no eczema, no hives, no colic, just a regular child. He eats only what his older brother can have and before he goes to kidergarten we'll test peanut on his skin only at the allergist's office just to be safe but we hope to have avoided this problem for him. I don't know if what I did while pregnant and breast feeding made any difference but I thought it couldn't hurt. We're keeping our fingers crossed for our second son so he doesn't have to go through what his brother faces many days.</p>


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