Food Allergy in the Breastfed Infant

Kirsi Järvinen-Seppo, MD, PhD


May 13, 2014

Food Allergy in Breastfed Infants

Infants who are exclusively breastfed can show signs and symptoms of food allergies.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9] This is thought to be due to maternal dietary macromolecules that are absorbed in the gut and transmitted in human milk,[2,3,10] and cow's milk, egg, wheat, and peanut allergens have been detected in human milk.[3,6,10,11,12,13]

Atopic dermatitis is the most common manifestation seen during the breastfeeding period, and is occasionally caused by food allergies. Immediate-type (eg, IgE-mediated) allergic reactions, including hives and anaphylaxis, have occasionally been reported to occur through exposure to dietary proteins ingested in breast milk, and confirmed in physician-supervised oral challenge procedures.[6] Gastrointestinal manifestations of food allergy, including abdominal pain/infantile colic and proctocolitis, and well-defined presentations, such as allergic eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)-associated gastroenteritis and, rarely, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), have been described in exclusively breastfed children.


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