A recent study done by the Albany Medical College, NY and reported to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Meeting suggests that there is a common mis-perception around breastfeeding and its impact on a child’s potential allergies. There is plenty of evidence that breastfeeding is best for the infant. (But, in my opinion, this is only true as long as it works for Mom.) Nutritionally, breast milk is the perfect food with added benefits but socially, financially, logistically and physically; only Mom can make that decision with each child and every time.
Everyone is aware of the benefits including:
- Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes protection for the mom
- Calorie burning so Mom has an easier time losing post-baby weight
- More developed flavour palate for the baby
- Enhanced child immunity
- Increased thymus size (where protective T cells live)
- Vitamins and minerals are more absorbable when obtained from breast milk over formula
- Good fats are transferred to the child helping to build the brain and other tissues
- Some studies show breastfed babies are at decreased risk for being overweight
So what’s new in this field? There is a misconception that the breastfeeding moms should avoid the top allergens in order to prevent the child from developing a sensitivity. This idea never really made sense to me since an allergic reaction is an immune response and we already know that breastfeeding is good for immunity. Now this small study has provided a clue and pointed in a direction to help moms choose.
This study tested the immune response of infants in two categories: moms who ate the top allergens (wheat, dairy and peanuts), and those who avoided it. What they found was that the infants of the “avoiding mothers” were more susceptible to allergy than “non-avoiding mothers”. The current hypothesis is that the mother ingests the food and develops an immune response herself and then passes that strength on to the child. This theory just feels right when passed through the common sense-o-metre.
The bottom line remains the same with a little more evidence supporting the breast. If you can and wish to breastfeed, do so knowing that eating allergenic foods passes along the flavour, nutrients and enhanced immunity to your baby.
Theresa is a Food Communications Specialist and Nutritionist. Her French Canadian influences are a part of her 'no bologna' style as everything is on the table...not just the dinner. She has the unique ability to distill complex health concepts into simple, savvy steps to improve any lifestyle choice.
Theresa is a sought after media commentator and lifestyle pundit on many topics with a particular fascination with human relationships with food and culture. She has two books published in Canada and the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day
and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck
She can be found on Twitter as @theresaalbert
and at www.myfriendinfood.com
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Whether across the city or the globe, change can be scary for adults and children. These tips will set your family up for success.
- How do you feel? Children take their cues from their parents. If you feel anxious, scared or resentful, they will too. Work through your baggage. It will help everyone involved.
- Talk clearly. “Our family is moving to a new city!” rather than “How would you like to move to a new place?” If it’s not a choice, don’t pretend it is.
- Present age-appropriate facts. How will this directly affect them? “You will have a new room. We are taking your old bed and your stuffed animals. We will live really close to Grandma.”
- Accept all feelings. Don’t expect your kids to instantly love the idea. They may need time to adjust and might vary between excitement, fear and nervousness. Empathize with them: “Wow, sounds like you are feeling unsure about this – that’s pretty normal. Different people react differently to change. Take your time and ask me whatever questions you need to. Do you need a hug right now or do you want to think about this on your own for a while?” Just because your child feels one way right now, doesn’t mean it will be like that forever.
- Give control where you can. The kids can’t decide whether you are moving, but they might choose paint colour for their rooms, new towels for their bathroom or which books are coming with them from the old house.
- Thanks for the memories. Create a picture book of the old house, familiar places and old friends. You could also make a picture book of the new house so that it becomes known and predictable.
- The big day. Move your child’s bedding, stuffies and favourite books in your own vehicle if possible. That way, upon arrival, what’s needed for a familiar bed routine is easy to find.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca
to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!