Nursing Moms Should not Avoid Cow's Milk

Milk free diet can increase babys risk for allergies

(RxWiki News) Nursing moms who avoid milk in hopes of reducing their babies’ risk for food allergies should think twice: A new study finds that it may increase your baby’s risk for food allergies.

Doctors from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, N.Y., looked at the breast milk of breastfeeding women and found that women mothers who didn’t drink milk had lower levels of an antibody that may ward off allergies.

"Try to breastfeed for at least six months."

Dr. Kirsi M. Jarvinen of Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y., and colleagues wanted to see how milk avoidance during breastfeeding impacted cow’s milk-specific igA levels in breast milk, and how it affected specific IgG levels in the babies.

The doctors took milk samples from 160 nursing women; 71 of these women had avoided milk because a cow’s milk allergy ran in the family. Then, the doctors took serum samples from the babies at roughly six months of age.

They say that milk-abstaining moms had lower levels of the antibodies B-lactoglobulin (BLG)- and casein-specific IgA, compared to moms who didn’t avoid milk. Also, the babies of milk-abstaining moms had lower levels of casein-specific IgG, compared to babies whose moms didn’t avoid milk.

The babies had "impaired" responses to milk protein, which may increase risk for a milk allergy, says Jarvinen in the study.

They conclude that cutting milk from a mother's diet while breastfeeding results in lower levels of the antibody IgA in the babies, which can protect against food allergies. So it's best not to elimination cow's milk if a mom hopes to prevent food allergies in her child.

In a separate study, British researchers report similar findings on the relation between a mother’s diet and infants’ food allergies. Doctors from the University of Southampton in England and other institutions found that dietary changes during breastfeeding did not result in a lower risk of food allergies in children.

The researchers looked at 123 mothers and their babies and found that 90% of the babies who developed food allergies – or 41 babies – had moms who avoided some type of food during pregnancy, such as nuts, eggs, shellfish, seeds or legumes. In comparison, only 73% of babies in the control group – 82 mom-baby pairs who didn’t avoid a type of food – developed a food allergy.

Both studies were presented at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology’s annual meeting in March. The British study was funded by the U.K. Food Standards Agency.

Review Date: 
March 7, 2012