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Signs that allergy might be causing your breastfed baby to wake frequently - Page 2

post #21 of 37
Do you really feel like you are being flamed? I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure you didn't expect to get called out on this stuff. I can only speak for myself in saying that I was certainly not flaming you, and while I see other posters disagreeing with you, I don't see flames there either. I think that some of the previous posters are concerned that some of your info is inaccurate and therefore possibly harmful and misleading to BF moms. If you saw someone posting something that you believed to be inaccurate, wouldn't you challenge it? I'm sure an accurate list of what to look out for that might signal an allergy in a BF baby would be a wonderful resource that many of us would be happy to pass on, but this isn't quite there.

The only reason I wondered about your credentials is because of the issue I mentioned as far as needing to be careful to have a disclaimer about this list not being a substitute for medical advice. If you are "just a mom" (and maybe you are? Maybe your counseling is in a lay context?) you need a disclaimer. That's all. If you had never posted anything about credentials, I still would have disagreed with some of the items included on your list and how you've chosen to present the info. Again, you NEED to explain that those normal behaviors are normal. And you need to correct the info you have about what normal BF babies do -- otherwise, your info is simply incorrect.

If you were posting this and just saying it was based on your experience and the experiences of others you know, I would be even more critical of your info. A sample of 40 mothers with allergic babies is NOT an adequate basis for making the claims you are making...this is elementary research design. The only way your list can be considered accurate is if the anecdotal info you have also matches up with the research. You said it does, so why not include your references in footnotes to your list? It would strengthen your list considerably, and would give your readers the opportunity to verify for themselves (as many would want to do) the basis of your info. If you'd like me to send you an example of a fully referenced info sheet, LMK.

I will PM you for the studies you've mentioned. I would really like to investigate this further, since as I said, my DS exhibited a lot of the symptoms you describe, but the cause does not appear to be allergies. I'd like to see if the research points to any other possible causes of these kinds of behaviors.
post #22 of 37
I hope you don't think I was flaming you, either! I think you have some very interesting information, and just because I disagree with some of it, doesn't mean that I don't respect the message you are trying to convey. I do have one very allergic child, and another not so allergic, both of whom did many of the things in your list. I am also very allergic myself. I think, for me at least, sensory dysfunction/spiritedness plays a huge role in not only my allergies, but in also my own personal sleep problems. I also think it's normal for babies to show some of the behaviors on your list, and not necesarily signs of there being any problem that needs to be fixed (other than the parents' perception of the existence of a problem).

But, I totally agree that allergies should be ruled out when babies are excessively nightwaking! Not just food allergies, but environmental ones as well.
post #23 of 37
Thread Starter 

Why do I feel flamed?

I am hypersensitive I'm sure. Call it sleep deprivation. Dd does not sleep, and I am WAY tired. After I "cheated" and had some real food over the last few days, my infant has been miserable. I have not had longer than a 30 minute stretch of sleep for 3 days.

ALSO, as a larger source of grumpiness, I had to choose between nocate for my currant infant who has MFPI OR eating an extremely limited diet that consists of nothing more than peaches, buffalo, and wild rice. BUT, because I am so dedicated to nursing I have been willing to do that for more than 9 months, despite the fact it makes me cranky.

PLUS, during the seven years I've been dealing with my own kiddos with majorly severe food allergies I've read just about everything out there and then some and pestered just about every doc and holistic practicioner in my town.

Its a sore spot, the food allergy issue. But, I don't think I was objecting so much to being challenged, as the WAY I was challenged. One or two of the posters (and it doesn't matter who) more or less came right out and accused me of posting BAD and possibly dangerous?? information.

I'm paraphrasing but what I GOT was:

Boy, there are THINGS on that list that are WRONG. Shouldn't someone edit this so people aren't mislead?

Wouldn't it have been far more friendly and helpful to have posted something like:

'Gosh, that is an interesting list. Are you sure about XYZ information because I have heard differently. Do you mind sharing with me where you got your information? I really want to make sure nursing mothers get the best possible information!!'

I bet I would have responded a LOT differently. Wouldn't you have?? It is the difference between "debate" where there is a winner and a loser, and "reaching understanding" where we all win. I don't want to debate, but I'd be glad to try to reach an understanding. But, that requires putting down the dueling pistols, or the dueling experts, so to speak.

Anyway, I promise not to let my sleep deprivation get the better of me. So, I changed my mind and I'm back, and I’ll even stop moping now even though I'd KILL for a DQ sundae like the one being advertised behind me on TV RIGHT NOW!!!!

Beyond this, call "flame" a poor choice of words. I actually am not really offended since I am pretty hard to offend. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to take the time to respond in detail mostly because it seemed the response to my post was, shall we say, inordinately harsh?? And, because I am a busy SAHM of three who is really sleep deprived and was not expecting such controversy.

Anyway, here goes a long, long, long, answer. Bear with me:

Firstly, it is helpful to understand the definition of “allergy”. At ONE point different food induced responses were called variably “intolerance, allergies, or sensitivities” depending on their symptomology. But, allergists these days simply refer to ANY negative immune response to a food as an allergy. These responses can be IgE mediated, or the more typical food allergies we hear about (like to peanut) or they can involve other parts of the immune system and, consequently, other areas of the body. There is a wealth of information out there on allergy in general, but these review articles are pretty good summaries. I choose these articles because they are readable, and available on line in full-text form. BUT you can find hundreds of recent articles on food allergy backing up a lot of the physical symptoms I listed.



To pull out a few key points: Only a small subset of food allergies, those typically associated with IgE antibodies show up on traditional allergy tests. So-called “true” food allergies, the ones that can result in typical anaphylaxis, are present in about 8% of the pediatric population. It is NOT uncommon for a child with documented gastrointestinal food allergies to test negative on RAST or skin testing. Also, the kinds of allergies that cause lower GI discomfort, gassiness, colitis, and cramping are usually not the kind that show up on food allergy tests.

Because there are no convenient medical tests for the other kinds of food allergies, and their symptoms can be varied and uniquely effect each person, there are no clear numbers for the percent of the population who have non-IgE mediated allergy. HOWEVER, we can get a clue for how high these numbers when you read studies like the following. The first one indicates that REFLUX is caused or worsened by cow’s milk allergy in at least 50% of all cases of reflux. Other smaller studies show even higher percentage of causality.


Colic is well known to be associated with cow’s milk and other proteins in mother’s milk.

So, is food allergy rare? Given the prevalence of colic, reflux, and true food allergy in the pediatric population I’d say rare is really not a correct designation.

So, how about my dreaded list of food allergy symptoms: To start, here’s some lists, similar to mine, from a few well-known references. My list was synthesized from these sources AND others, and put in non-medical terminology. I’ve also used experience as a lactation consultant to come up with additions to these lists, but I think you’ll see that nearly every thing on my lists are backed up in these references. In fact, I exclude SOME things on the list because (in my experience) these are generally not present in exclusively breastfed infants before they are given solids directly. I have also excluded some symptoms also because, in my experience, they tend mostly to be found in older children past the first year.

From “The Nursing Mother’s Companion 5th Edition” page 150-151

If your baby pulls away from the breast crying and refuses to nurse, don’t assume he is ready to wean. There are a number of possible reasons for this behavior but when it persists it can frequently be traced to certain foods in the mother’s diet to which the baby is sensitive. Typically this behavior starts when the baby is two weeks of age. He may also act fussy and have very frequent, sometimes greenish, stools. Other symptoms may include gassiness, redness around the rectum, a mild rash anywhere on the body, or a stuffy nose. Fussiness while nursing and refusal to nurse may occur sporadically or may increase as the day goes on. Although baby refuses the breast, he may eagerly take breastmilk from a bottle
(That last sentence sounds a LOT like bottle preference, does it not??)

Here’s a list from the same reference about symptoms of “reflux” from page 155. If you read the description Huggins goes on to associate reflux with food allergy in many if not most cases. Since we already established (see studies above) that a great deal of reflux is caused by allergy, the symptoms lists will overlap.

Symptoms of this problem can include sudden or inconsolable crying, arching during feedings, refusing the breast or bottle, frequent burping or hiccoughing, bad breath, gagging or choking, frequent throat inflammation, poor sleep patterns, slow weight gain, frequent ear infections…”

Some babies with reflux will seem to want to eat all the time and may grow very fast.
(Sounds like cluster nursing doesn’t it??)

Other babies may not only cry after and in-between feedings, but they fuss at the breast and may refuse nursing altogether. Oddly enough they may take that same milk from a bottle that they would not take from the breast.
(Again, there is that pesky bottle preference).

Some babies seem to suffer more with lower belly discomfort than with regurgitation and heart burn. Besides crying these babies symptoms may include gassiness; stools that are very frequent or green, mucas, or even bloody; and redness around the rectum. A baby may have a stuffy nose or a rash on her face and upper body. She may want to nurse all the time.
(There is that cluster nursing again.)

From “Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (2nd edition) by Riorden and Auerbach page 656.

Vomiting may be accompanied by chronic diarrhea, colic, colitis, excessive crying, reluctance to feed, and poor sleep patterns. Eczema, uticaria, a severe diaper rash, and excessive pallor may also be present. Individual infants may respond differently to allergenic foods.. […..] one infant may develop diarrhea, colic, or GI problems; another may respond through his central nervous system and become irritable or hyperactive; and a third may have dermatological symptoms such as urticaria or eczema.

“The list of allergy symptoms is long: an allergic child may have rhinitis, otitis media, coughing, asthma, conjunctivitis, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and frequent respiratory infections.

From "Breastfeeding: A Guide for the medical profession (5th edition).” By Ruth A. Lawrence (Page 626.)

Symptoms associated with food allergy include asthma, urticaria, and rhinitis as well as colic and failure to thrive with chronic respiratory and gastrointestinal disease. [….] Sleep disturbances have been reported in a series of children evaluated with a prospective double blind crossover design. Another symptom reported in two siblings was insatiability despite adequate weight gain. This was confirmed by history and reproducible reaction to dietary elimination and subsequent oral challenge.
(Insatiability is a baby who seems to want to nurse all the time, and looks a LOT like “cluster nursing”.)

From Lalecheleague.org

IgE-mediated reactions can include symptoms in the upper gastrointestinal tract such as nausea, vomiting, reflux, refusal to eat, and eating ravenously; lower GI symptoms may include blood in stools and diarrhea. IgE-mediated disease can also cause respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and perpetual congestion; atopic dermatitis, eczema, and various rashes; an extreme reaction is anaphylaxis which leads to cardiovascular collapse and shock. Symptoms of non-IgE-mediated allergic disease (or cow's milk colitis) are usually limited to the lower GI tract, causing diarrhea and blood in the stools. The presence of symptoms outside the gastrointestinal system generally indicates IgE-mediated hypersensitivity.
From the Sears website:


Notably, here is the list of some of the behaviors some of which really would only be readily apparent in an older child, but would show up as fussiness, crankiness, and “high needs” in an infant.

migraine headaches
sore muscles and joints
From beloved Kellymom:


If a breastfed baby is sensitive to a particular food, then he may be fussy after feedings, cry inconsolably for long periods, or sleep little and wake suddenly with obvious discomfort. There may be a family history of allergies. Other signs of a food allergy may include: rash, hives, eczema, sore bottom, dry skin; wheezing or asthma; congestion or cold-like symptoms; red, itchy eyes; ear infections; irritability, fussiness, colic; intestinal upsets, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea, or green stools with mucus or blood.
I want to note, however, that I actually don’t agree with her that food allergies and sensitivities in breastfed infants are rare. As I said above, something that includes 8% of the pediatric population, and also MAY include a large percentage of infants who have “colic” or “reflux” may not actually be very “rare”.

And from another place in her website:


Following are some reactions that may help you recognize an allergy in your baby:

Bloating, gassiness
Skin rashes (for example, a sandpaper-like raised red rash on the face), eczema, hives
Runny nose, stuffiness, constant cold-type symptoms
Red itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, dark circles under the eyes, constant tearing
Diarrhea, mucousy stools, intestinal upset
A red rash around the anus
Generally cranky behavior, fussiness, irritability, colic
Vomiting or increased spitting-up
Ear infections
Poor weight gain due to malabsorption of food
Okie dokie.

I included on my list only the symptoms that seemed to be most common in the breastfeeding mothers I was in contact with who were exclusively nursing their infants.

BUT, LOTS of lists including most everything I have on my list, right?? In fact, many of the symptoms on my list are on nearly every one of the other lists.

Oh yeah, AND lots of respected sources USE lists as a way to help a mom and/or figure out what MIGHT be happening with her infant. So, I guess lists are not inherantly mis-leading??

OK, now on the MAIN points of disagreement. I don’t think people were really disagreeing with MOST of the list, especially the physical symptoms that are pretty well documented. I suspect that MOST of the disagreement really falls to TWO main points I list under behavior. The sleep information, btw, shouldn’t even be in dispute. Poor sleep patterns are mentioned in just about every list of food allergy symptoms. And, if you want a good sense of what constitutes “normal” sleep there are a number of excellent books that review sleep cycles and patterns in young children. You can look up the stats yourself or how long an infant generally sleeps and by what age, and what infant sleep cycles look like.

So, the two MAIN issues of disagreement seem to be “cluster nursing” and “wanting to be held all the time” (the high needs personality).

Firstly, the “cluster nursing”. I think it is important, even critical, to have a definition of what clinically constitutes cluster nursing.

Cluster nursing is a period of VERY frequent nursing, generally at night or in the early morning that is typically followed by a period of deep sleep. Cluster nursing is most apparent in the first few days after birth, at 3 and 6 weeks, and during other growth spurts in an older infant. And, this is a very loose definition. In fact, Riorden only uses the term “cluster nursing” to refer to the nursing pattern present in very young infants in the first 2-4 days of life when they are establishing milk supply. In her close to 800 page textbook, which is often seen as one of the “bibles” of lactation information, cluster nursing is not mentioned one other single time other than in the immediate neonate period.

But, MOST importantly, cluster nursing is something that happens in a normal infant WHEN that infant is gaining normally, is generally content at other times of the day, and does not exhibit other clinical signs of colic or reflux.

The PROBLEM here is that cluster nursing is used in a general way to describe any infant who is nursing frequently for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, inexperienced lay counselors often call things "cluster nursing" and tell them not to worry when; in fact, mom has an actual problem. It is inadvisable to tell ANY mother that cluster nursing is “normal” unless you have asked her for additional details about baby’s weight gain, general behavior, sleep patterns, and health, and stooling pattern. ONLY when everything else seems fine should you jump to the conclusion that the behaviors is innocuous "cluster nursing". This is simply good LC practice. Assume that there PROBABLY is no issue, but make DARNED SURE you have the entire picture before offering an assessment.

Here are some issues that can “CAUSE” that very frequent nursing often referred incorrectly as cluster nursing.

Low maternal milk supply: A mom who has low supply can have a baby who seems to want to nurse ALL the time. This constant nursing is generally worse in the evenings when low supply tends to be most apparent. The main way to distinguish this is that the so-called “cluster nursing” lasts all day, and is accompanied by sub-normal weight gain.

OALD and oversupply: A mom who has hyperlactation syndrome often has a baby who seems to want to nurse all the time. This occurs because baby is rapidly filled up on lactose rich foremilk, which dumps rapidly into the intestines leaving the stomach empty. Baby will often then “feel” hungry again after a short period of time and want to nurse. This is differentiated from “cluster nursing” because baby usually seems colicky or gassy much of the day, may have green frothy and frequent stools, and may gain weight excessively rapidly in the early weeks (upwards of 2 ounces a day).

Colic/reflux/food allergy: I don’t think I need to repeat the references above, but both these disorders are associated with very frequent nursing often incorrectly, but commonly, called “cluster nursing”. Most of the food allergy lists contain “constant nursing” which can be mis-represented as cluster nursing. So, I’m not sure THAT should be in debate either. Obviously, many reliable sources indicate that a baby who seems to want to nurse all the time might be symptomatic of a food allergy.

I actually think it is far more dangerous to simply tell some mom “oh don’t worry, cluster nursing is normal” than to have some mom see “cluster nursing” on a list of POSSIBLE symptoms of food allergy. But, yes, if it is semantics that is causing the main issue here, I’ll gladly remove the term “cluster nursing” from my list and replace it with “long periods of constant nursing where baby does not seem satisfied at the breast”. The reason I used cluster nursing is because it is the way moms describe this KIND of pattern of nursing in their own words.

The second area of “concern” is the description of an allergic baby vs the so-called “high need” baby. In other words, this paragraph:

- Fussiness: seeming to always want to be held, and are rarely content when on their own. They often hate the carseat. The fussiness may not be soothed even by carrying, holding, or rocking. When younger, they might have been diagnosed with "reflux" or colic. They may have a definite evening colicky period starting at about 2-3 weeks of age that expands gradually to encompass more and more of the day as baby gets older.
And, yes, “high needs” babies often want to be held all the time and are very attached. And, yes, many of the behaviors of allergic babies overlap with the “high needs babies” BUT, and this you can only take from my personal experience, food allergies look a LOT like the description of “high needs” babies Sears gives. So, how can you tell the difference? An allergic baby usually has other confirming symptoms of a physical nature, and will dramatically improve in mood and irritability when the food allergens are removed from the diet.

THIS, is harder to back up with medical research papers because main-line medicine tends to dismiss behavioral connections to food sensitivity. But, you don’t have to look hard to find annecdotal evidence supporting the idea that food allergens can make a baby needy and miserable, and eliminating the foods can make a world of difference in baby's outlook and mood and level of contentness AND, everyone knows what a colicky baby and a refluxy baby looks like. So, clearly since food allergies are related to those issues, then food allergies can cause behavior issues. Even all of the list above include one or two behavioral signs of food allergy. Why should it not? A uncomfortable baby is going to exhibit all the same kinds of behaviors an ADULT shows when they are in discomfort: neediness, irritability, etc, etc.

Does that mean that all ‘high need’ babies are allergic?


Does that mean that “high need” babies have a pathology?


I, in fact, have THREE BABIES/children who are BOTH high need AND allergic. And, I can tell you that it actually is not hard to separate the behaviors in my children that result from food issues, and the behavior that is driven by their intense personalities.

Oh yeah, and THIS is from the Sears website:

Our daughter-in-law, Diane, shared her experience as a colic detective: "At three weeks of age Lea started to cry all day long. She would awaken in the morning fussing, and by late afternoon it would turn into uncontrollable screaming fits. There was no way to calm her down. After a few sucks at my breast, she would throw her head back, arch her back, and start screaming. Within three days of eliminating all dairy products from my diet, her colic greatly improved. I'm glad we didn't just accept that she was 'colicky' and that 'some babies just cry all the time'.
In MY experience a LOT of so-called high need fussy infants improve dramatically when the problem foods are eliminatd from the diet. Apparantly, Dr. Sears agrees as well.

AND, what about bottle preference? Well, it is pretty clear that breast refusal is a common result of food allergy. More than one list mentions that above. AND, just as listed in Huggin’s book, these babies OFTEN will take the milk from a bottle. Voila, bottle preference. Incidentally, other causes of bottle preference are low maternal milk supply, ear infection, stuffy nose, sore throat, and mouth sores, and teething. In most cases, a fast flow nipple IN AND OF ITSELF will not cause bottle preference unless baby also has some other involved factor. With a WORKING mom who is pumping and bottle feeding a great deal, the most COMMON cause of bottle preference is low supply. COULD bottle preference BE a result of the faster flow of a bottle. Yes, it is possible, but I doubt it. I rarely have come across a mother/baby dyad where some OTHER factor was not contributing to, or causing, the preference. This is from my CLINICAL experience, btw. There simply aren’t any studies out there on late-onset bottle preference. Lots of people have their own OPINIONS, but there isn't a single study out there about this particular issue. SO, we all rely on our clinical experience.

Anyway, so WHO AM I? Well, you may or may not care since I am really trying hard NOT to post as any kind of so-called expert. (Thus my apology for the way I introduced the thread). I am a mother of three allergic infants the oldest of whom is seven. I am the member of an active group of breastfeeding mothers who are dealing with infants with food allergies. I am a lactation consultant with 5 years experience and the co-host of an expert moderated breastfeeding board co-hosted by Kathleen Huggins the author of the “Nursing Mother’s Companion”. I was trained by Kathleen, and have worked closely with her for the last 5 years. I also helped her edit the most recent edition of her book. If you look closely and are curious you can find me referenced there. In the five years I have been Kathleen’s co-host we have fielded probably 10,000 questions from nursing mothers, many of them about allergy, reflux, and colic. Because of my personal experience, and the experience of these mothers, I have become a quasi-specialist in nursing allergic infants.

So, after ALL that I do stand by my assessment that, in my clinical experience babies who waken unusually frequently with NO longer sleep stretches often are uncomfortable for some reason. When the sleep problem persists before the typical periods of time for infections, cold, teething, etc, food sensitivities are VERY often to blame. MOST babies, even young babies, will sleep at least a three hour stretch from a young age (and yes you can back this up with sleep research, look around). Babies who wake every 1.5/2 hours all night long, night after night, are being bothered by something. The something CAN be many things (low supply, teething, illness, ear infection) but is VERY often food sensitivities especially when the behavior persists and other causes have been ruled out.

So, some of the above is from my clinical experience, and some from personal experience, and it doesn’t really matter to me if you “agree” per se. You are free to disagree, to read up, to explore, and even to find OTHER clinicians who disagree with me. We all have unique perspectives. And, in the end I don't WANT anyone to just out an out agree blindly. Either what I posted make sense to you, or it doesn't. You may NOT agree with me, but it isn't "wrong". Some issues having to do with lactation and/or food allergy don't come DOWN to "right" or "wrong" which is why there are all kinds of ways you can gather information out there INCLUDING boards like this one.

And, last but not least, as a MOTHER of three beautiful attached children, and not as a clinician, I do NOT think it is unreasonable to expect a young infant to be content on the floor or in a bouncy chair for 15-30 minute stretches a couple times a day. Most babies are. Even SEARS (Mr AP) admits that "most babies" are NOT "high needs infants". A baby who cries the MOMENT you set them down for any reason could just as easily be an uncomfortable baby as a high needs baby. AND, we all deserve the chance to use the toilet without having to balance a baby on our lap even if baby has to be RIGHT THERE on the floor in a bouncy.

Peace and a good night to you all.
post #24 of 37
What an interesting discussion, thanks everybody!

Hoping I don't contribute to the OP"s sense of being flamed, I gotta say that when I started to read this, I also was under the impression that the OP wished to impart her "professional" knowledge. So, of course, having long distrusted health care professionals telling mothers what to do, I started reading with a critical eye. Within seconds I was batting my eyes. My children are not allergic at all, but they sure did those things!!!

I definitely see the point of saying, hey some children are fussy not out of sensitivity of character or general sense of discomfort, but not because of food allergies. Even breastfed children can have those! Because, let's be honest, because allergies are LESS common among breastfed children, some mothers may not think about the possibility that their fussy child is allergic to something. But this list,posted not in a thread about the topic but as its own thread, came across as, "I'm a professional, and food allergy is right on top of the list of causes of fussy behavior", and I dare to bet that the OP didnt' want to impart THAT. It's a bit like a new dentist would come on board and start telling us that breastfeeding is a very important cause of tooth decay, while we all know (thanks in part to this board) that it's not even though it may be a contributing factor and in SOME RARE cases it may actually be true. There aren't many big parenting boards where breastfeeding is NOT usually identified as the source of all childhood trouble; this is actually the only mainstream board I can think of.

OP, Sorry about your children's allergies, though. That must be very hard for everybody involved
post #25 of 37
Just to say.... my very allergic son, now 4, had all of these symptoms TO THE EXTREME!!!! The first thing I thought when I saw this post was that I wish I had seen it then. Maybe because much of the regular medical establishment had no advice to offer. My son was almost never off the breast, and when he was he was crying.... all the doctors could offer was a suggestion to switch to formula.If you have had an allergic infant you may not even know in your sleep deprevation what questions to ask. I know that many things on this list are normal.... but the wanting to nurse ALL the time , and in the arms all the time.... these are to the extreme. Nothing like any other child I have met.I am talking, nursing almost all night, with my partner walking with him the rest. We slept in shifts. This lasted up to when he was two. It was a nightmare, and it was lonely... especially for someone trying to be AP.I found this to be accurate to my experience. This especially hurts because regular doctors didn't offer any help, and there was no mention of the possibility of allergies at all. It just made me feel all the more like an AP freak. Now that I have seen more "normal" babies, I can assure you that this is not the regular "nursing all the time" or " wanting to be in arms all the time". I could never understand why people looked at me like" Yeah your baby wants to be held all the time(Duh!!!)"
And I didn't find the responses to be very welcoming to a newer poster.I know that things can be misconstrued in writing, but much of this did seem to be an attack. Be kind to newer posters, we could drive away a potential great contributor of the board.
post #26 of 37
Thread Starter 

Breastfeeding not to blame


I don't feel flamed by disagreement or even comment. I "felt" flamed by some of the ways that disagreement was framed. I don't even think that refers to the majority of the people on this thread anymore at this point.

And, as I said, I'm over being grumpy now. I actually got a 2 hour stretch of sleep last night.


AND, I AGAIN apologize for starting my thread posing as some kind of "expert". I definitely understand how that probably raised ire, especially in a community like this one (including myself) that has good reason to be suspicious of health professionals. After my personal allergy journal I don't trust the opinion of very many MDs. And, sadly, many LCs also turned out to be useless.

Given my situation, I doubt my dedication to breastfeeding is in question?

But, here is the deal with breasteeding and allergies. Breastfeeding is not to BLAME, and I never said it was. These babies would have allergies regardless, and the allergies would be much more severe on conventional formulas. That is the FIRST piece of advice I give to a mom of an allergic baby who is resistant to eliminating something the baby is allergic to, and thinks formula would be "easier". In MOST cases once the mother of an allergic baby weans, she ends up on the "formula parade" trying formula after formula as the symptoms get worse and worse until she ends up with a miserable baby and a VERY expensive hypo formula.

Hey, having said that (and risking more violent disagreement), it IS appropriate for some moms to wean to formula when dealing with a severely allergic infant. It is unrealistic, despite the fact that I am willing to do it, to expect most moms to put up with a severely restricted diet for months at a time. Luckily, cases like mine are pretty darned rare. I suspect even the most dedicated AP mommy MIGHT question the advisability of a diet that is so limiting to the mother.

And, I just want to add on to what the last poster says: yes, all these behaviors CAN be normal to a certain extent in "normal" infants. But the issue here is the duration and the extremity. Yes, those behaviors are normal for most infants once in awhile. But, when it is day after day after day something else is probably going on.
post #27 of 37
Honeysucklemama, I was not questioning your credentials, not questioning your intentions, not flaming you or calling you any kind of names. I was questioning what you wrote. You presented a list of symptoms. When one does this everything on the list gets equal weight, unless one makes qualifications and explains the contexts of the behaviors, which you did not do.

Despite your obviously good intentions, you presented things as pathologies *specifically indicative of allergy* that not only are not pathologies in and of themselves (and you did not clarify under what circumstances they are and are not), but additionally might also be caused by numerous other things.

If I were to make a list of things that might indicate that my baby has an ear infection, one of the things I might include is crying. A baby with an ear infection may cry. But a crying baby does not necessarily have an ear infection. A baby with an allergy may cluster nurse, but babies who cluster nurse do not necessarily have an allergy. You did not make these kinds of distinctions clear, and for women who cannot see what you wrote in the contexts that you did not provide this is troubling. It is not your credentials that were the problem it's how you wrote your post. Adding your credentials compounded the problem, because you have given authority to your ambiguous list. And now you have given the authority of your teacher to this list as well.

I apologize if I was passionate in my response. I have responded strongly because, in short, these particular behaviors are the very things that attached babies do, and the same things that tired parents and new nursing moms worry about, and the same things that our society attacks AP for as abnormal. Do they SOMETIMES indicate a problem? Yes. Is that problem SOMETIMES an allergy or other food sensitivity? Yes! But that is not what you said, and saying that up front is important because these things form the core of what we argue about with our families and perfect strangers who don’t understand why she isn’t sleeping through the night YET, why we are nursing them AGAIN, why she is only happy with mamma, and why she won’t nap alone. See Ferber, Weissbluth and Ezzo for further, professionally-styled examples of the same.

Honeysucklemama, I wish you peace (and a good night’s rest). Your story of perseverance in breastfeeding despite allergies with three children is inspiring. It can be maddeningly frustrating to have an unhappy baby and not know what to do, and your commitment to and compassion for mothers in a similar situation deserves recognition. It is often only through hearing other mothers’ stories that we find the strength to go on when things are rough; thanks for taking the time to share yours.

And now off to nurse my allergy-free 2 year old to sleep (which, incidentally, will be our tenth time today, but that's another story).
post #28 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hi again, Chicagomom.

I think we are equally passionate, perhaps?

I'm not reading to the top of the thread cause I don't wanna. I don't want to feel upset again, and I don't want to associate any user names with negative feelings. But at one point the accuracy of my information was called into question, not the manner in which I presented myself. I posted a list that was well researched and backed up in many other reputable sources, and I was called "misleading". And, it peeved me even though it shouldn't have. I'm human. The only reason I posted any more information at all is because people honestly said they were curious. Sadly, posting information that is derived from clinical experience requires that one HAVE clinical experience. I debated a great deal about including that at all, and edited and re-edited my post many times.

But, in the end I decided that either I am welcome to post here "as I am" or I am not. Part of who I am is what I do, and I am not ashamed of it. I HOPE that I can use these skills to help people in this community in addition to getting support for my OWN situation. I would actually hope that if there were a person with a particular area of expertise they would be willing to share that with ME. One of the WONDERFUL things about belonging to a community is that we all bring special areas of expertise to the table. I'd hope I could pick the brain of the local child therapist, or the local home schooling mom, or the local CD-making mom, or the local OB-mom if she were around.

So, I left that part in there. Maybe I shouldn't have, maybe I should have. Who knows. But I'm not going to lose any more sleep about it. I have my 9 month old to do that for me.

Anyway, I THINK what you are saying is that you disagree with the "symptomology list" concept in general, and not the information per se. You had a problem with the WAY the information was presented, and the way I introduced it (which I already apologized for). You seem to be saying that such a list may lead mothers with high need infants to incorrectly decide their children might have a problem when, in fact, they are simply different than OTHER children because they are attachment parented, right?

For me, lists of symptoms are a tool like anything else. And a useful tool. Sears website is full of such lists, as is the LLL site. I can see that the WAY I presented the list was not the best, but I don't see a problem IN such a list.

And, to be honest, I am unclear what the danger is if a mom sees a bunch of things on a list and decides to look into the possibility? The worst case scenerio is that a mom might THINK some of the things she is seeing in her baby are a result of allergy, when in fact they are not.

So, perhaps she sees some symptoms on the list that are NOT a result of allergy and ARE a result of being high needs? Well, in that case she'd look into the idea and find that allergy was not to blame. So, no harm, no foul, no allergy.

I think you also suggested that a child may HAVE allergies and NOT show any of those symptoms at all and so the diagnosis would be missed?? I suppose that would be possible, but, to be honest, I REALLY am having a hard time imagining how that could be the case. A child with a food allergy usually has some confirming symptoms, although they might be subtle. And, true food allergies nearly always show some physical sign like eczema, rash, etc.

Anyway, I'm trying to think about how I could address your concerns.

Maybe a graduated list with a disclaimer??

Most babies with allergy will exhibit one or more of the physical symptoms. Perhaps a graduated list: babies with allergies USUALLY show one or more of these physical symptoms. And then on the behavioral symptoms: these behaviors are normal in most infants from time to time. It is the duration and the severity that is important. Perhaps even a description of a high need child?

Anyway, maybe NO list no matter how presented would be OK with you. I don't know. I am actually trying to understand.

I think we all come at things from our experience. Some moms will read this list and see their allergic child and get help. That is the target audience I was after. I think YOU saw this list and saw "yet another" health provider trying to pathologize babies who are attachement parented. Maybe you've had one too many experience up front and personal with people like that? Most of the time we are passionate BECAUSE of things that have happened to us in our lives. No one has a strong response to something unless it pushes their emotional buttons.

But I think that it might be helpful to understand that I am EQUALLY passionate for this reason: As much as there is a risk that a parent of a "normal" AP infant might see that list and be mislead, there is a risk as well that a parent of an allergic, hurting baby might be told over and over by the AP community that "this is normal" and suffer for YEARS with no help. It happened to me. My oldest child nearly cost me my health and my sanity. And, the VERY AP people who I turned to for support just kept placating me with descriptions of "high needs" infants. Turns out my infant WASN'T normal, even for a high-needs, attachment parented infant. Too bad dh, ds, and I had to suffer SO LONG without getting help because my concerns were routinely dismissed as "normal" by the very people we hoped could help us. We probably would have been better off in the "regular" crowd who would have insisted the bahavior was NOT normal, and we would have been driven to find a solution long before my baby had an anaphylactic reaction at 9 months of age.

So, we are at an impasse. You feel the real danger is that parents will see their AP-parented infant and see pathology where there is none. And I feel the REAL danger is that suffering mother/baby dyads will persist for years in terrible pain and isolation because they are told over and over that things are "normal" when they are not.

So, perhaps we need to agree to disagree and let readers of the thread sort things out for themselves.

Anyway, I AM praying for more sleep tonight. I am at a real low, and, let me tell you, the formula can is looooking real good to me right now. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up. The thought of another Buffalo burger makes me want to puke.

Peace and good night.
post #29 of 37
Thread Starter 

Could we agree on...

the idea that at least the DISCUSSION the list provoked has been valuable.

Anyway, thanks for your kind words. They are needed and appreciated.
post #30 of 37
Honeysucklemama, how do you think it happens that babies can have such severe and all-encompassing food intolerances as yours do? I've been thinking a lot about this, as my DD has intolerances to many foods, also, although definitely not nearly as many as yours! I'm just thinking that this cannot have been "normal" throughout human history or we probably wouldn't have made it this far, kwim? It seems like MFPI must be new to human beings and I'm wondering what causes it. Vaccines would seem likely, except that most babies exhibit symptoms before they've had any vaccines - unless they got HepB right after birth. My DD didn't have that shot, but she showed symptoms of food intolerances starting at about 3 weeks.

I know this isn't really the place for that, but if you have any ideas on this, could you tell me where to look or maybe PM me? I'm just so curious as to how this could be happening. Thanks!
post #31 of 37
Thread Starter 
My lastborn isn't vaxed, and she started showing symptoms YOUNG, as in at 10 days post-partum. Personally, I think it is polution in the environment and additives in the foods but I am guessing from personal prejudice. I think engineered foods and preservatives and food additives can really mess with hormonal balance, and I think, ultimately effect immune system development in utero.

But, that is a totally unfounded guess. I wish I knew. I'd save other parents the agony. Each of my kids has been worse than the first. First born was only allergic to a handful of things, although he is the only one with anaphylaxis to anything. Second born was allergic to a LOT of things, but there was a core group of foods (mostly the Sears elim diet) that we could both eat. My last born is allergic to everything. She is allergic to EVERY SINGLE one of the base foods on the Sears diet EXCEPT peaches. And, I don't know if there is any

I also wonder if mom's GI tract has any effect. My GI tract has been messed up for years. I have always wondered if I simply don't break down the allergens enough.

I imagine it is a lot of complex factors. No one seems to know for sure why allergies are more and more common, and why the severe ones are more and more common.
post #32 of 37
For me, lists of symptoms are a tool like anything else. And a useful tool. Sears website is full of such lists, as is the LLL site. I can see that the WAY I presented the list was not the best, but I don't see a problem IN such a list.
I think that the list becomes a problem when one doesn't place things in their proper context. For example, in your list, you didn't make the crucial link between physical symptoms and behaviors. Since you didn't do this, the behaviors become physical symptoms themselves. As a professional therapist, you will know the importance of setting contexts to any medical information. You failed to do that with your list.

As an example, I have list I call "Normal Behaviors of Attached Infants":

- Early attachment to people, rather than things: Seeming to always want to be held, and rarely content when on their own.

- Easy arousal (protective against SIDS, esp seen in bedsharing breastfed babies): Baby...often wakes frequently at night, every 1.5 hours or two hours all night long.

- Healthy attachment to the primary caregiver(s): Baby may seem unable to nap alone during the day and may need to be held to sleep.

- Periods of frequent nursing: Baby seems to want to nurse ALL the time. Mom may feel like baby is attached 24/7.

Here is another list, which we shall call "Signs of allergy in a breastfed infant":

- Fussiness: seeming to always want to be held, and are rarely content when on their own.

- Poor sleep: Baby may not nap well and often wakes frequently at night, every 1.5 hours or two hours all night long. Baby may seem unable to nap alone during the day and may need to be held to sleep.

- Cluster nursing: Baby seems to want to nurse ALL the time. Mom may feel like baby is attached 24/7.

See what I mean?

And, to be honest, I am unclear what the danger is if a mom sees a bunch of things on a list and decides to look into the possibility? The worst case scenerio is that a mom might THINK some of the things she is seeing in her baby are a result of allergy, when in fact they are not.
Since your behavior list included a number of normal behaviors for nursing and AP babies and since we live in a society where nursing and AP parenting is still considered by many to be an abnormal behavior, and since many women report significant pressures from their families in this regard, then I would say that you would have an obligation not to do things that might alarm them further. Especially since all you are being asked to do is to present medical information in a properly informative contextual manner and not in the form of "here's a list; make of it what you will."
post #33 of 37
Thread Starter 
I see what you are saying. So, you are thinking the issue is that a reader might ignore all the possible physical signs, and then jump right to the behavioral things on the list.


Certainly that makes sense to me. Thank you for taking the time to clarify your objections.
post #34 of 37
honeysucklemama, I really appreciate your taking the time to compile all this information!

You've described my dd to a tee. THE fussiest, crankiest baby I've ever seen, and I've worked with and known quite a few. Could not be put down for one instant in the day, except the one or two blessed 20-min. naptimes...of course I would've been ok with that if she were happy in my arms the rest of the time. But I didn't think I had any choice but to put her in the wrap and just let her wail her tiny head off, for hours, every day until she'd finally conk out for a while from exhaustion. She'd sleep okay at night, as long as she could nurse back to sleep every 45 min. at most, all night long.

I think that some of these criticisms are just semantics, with some di#k-swinging thrown in, honestly. As a mother, you definitely know the difference between a baby;s normal "just wanting comfort", and subsequently actually being comforted...and the total inconsolability, constant discomfort and sleep deprivation of the allergic baby you describe here.

I didn't know what on earth was wrong. (I live in CHina and whenever we went to the ped she was distracted enough not to be cranky...and they told me there was no problem...except that I should leave her and let her CIO)

I tried changing nursing patterns. I eliminated dairy, then wheat, and of course coffee and all chocolate. Things were bad for 10 months. And then suddenly starting getting a little better when I introduced solids (carefully).

Now I know that it was definitely allergies, to something or other in my diet that made her so miserable. I'll never know exactly what. Maybe soy? the Vitamins I was taking? Who knows? Thanks for your list, I'm keeping it just in case #2 has the same problems, let's hope not!
post #35 of 37
Wow! I'm kind of appalled by reading the attacks of this post. Aren't we all moms who just want the best for our babies??? With that said, I found this info fit our situation to a tee!!! While I do not know if my LO has an actual allergy or sensitivity to dairy, the elimination of it in my diet has created a completely different baby. Starting at about 2 weeks until 6 weeks when diet elimination started) we had the baby who never slept, screamed (not cried, not fussed) with legs drawn up to his chest, he wanted to nurse almost every hour (and I already had an oversupply so it wasn't done to increase my supply), diapers were mucousy and green every single hour, rash from face to belly, raw red bottom, also screamed when passing horrid gas, gained weight extremely rapidly that put him in 90th percentile at all his visits when he started less than 50th. Holding, rocking, bouncing, swaddling, gas drops, gripe water - all did nothing to help! Doctor even prescribed us an old school medicine (which kind of helped temporarily) but was extremely dangerous and can cause shallow breathing - which you don't want in an infant), so we stopped it. It was when I noticed that he was worse on the day after I would drink milk with dinner that I tried the elimination diet. Within a week the screaming stopped, he would nap, started sleeping more at night (now at 13 weeks he sleeps 10 hrs straight) rash cleared up, bottom cleared up, and he started feeding about every 2.5-3 hrs consistently. His poops have gone to normal frequency for a bf baby and are no longer mucousy either.
Now he still has some normal fussiness, and occasionally has a repeat of these symptoms but it seems to be after I eat pb or peanuts so that's next one to try.
All babies are different and all react differently, but if this article is used to just help a parent rule out other possibilities by changing a moms diet or swapping formula or foods. Then what is the harm. My own qualified, educated pediatrician could have ultimately done more harm to my child with that medicine that this writer has done with this post. Chill mommas!
post #36 of 37

Many thanks: Much appreciated. I fully understand your point in the whole debate that ensued and FULLY recognise my allergic baby and now realise that the colic in the first was probably also due to an allergy too. I've started an elimination diet (dairy wheat and tree nuts) as well as aggravating ingredients like onion and beans. It's a mission but I'd rather do that than sit and watch my baby squirm in pain day and night. I hear you and thank you. Joanna

post #37 of 37

Thanks. Mine is 7 weeks. He also has a tummy operation for pyloric stenosis so at first I thought he was fussing after the op, but now I realise something is wrong, It's been a hard 2 months but, hey, same with number one but only at night. So I think this guy is worse just a bit less high pitched than my daughter,,, 

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