According to recent research, new mothers who avoid consuming milk, nuts, and other common food allergens while nursing their babies may actually be doing more harm than good, says
Mothers who avoided drinking cow's milk while nursing showed lower levels of milk-specific IgA, which is thought to prevent food allergies from developing, says Dr. Kirsi Järvinen of Albany Medical College. Their babies also showed a reduced IgG response to milk proteins, suggesting that they may be at a higher risk of developing allergies, reported Dr. Järvinen.
A separate group of researchers found that women who changed their diet during breastfeeding did not reduce the likelihood that their children would develop food allergies. Dr. A. Wesley Burks of the University of North Carolina, who was not involved with either study, commented “There's no reason to avoid foods during breastfeeding," because there is no evidence that dietary modifications by the mother make any difference in the development of food allergies.
Some pediatricians advise women with a family history of food allergies to avoid consuming certain allergens, or feeding them to their baby, for as long as possible. However, new evidence suggests that it may actually be beneficial to expose children to allergens from an early age.