Breastmilk is the perfect baby food for most infants. Breastmilk meets the specific needs of a baby and is nearly nutritionally complete. Breastmilk significantly reduces the risk of diseases. Babies receiving breastmilk compared to formula fed babies are less likely to develop:
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- Diarrhea illnesses
However, some babies can be allergic to milk protein found in their mother’s breastmilk. When an infant is allergic to milk, it means that their immune system, which usually fights infections, overreacts to the proteins in cow’s milk. Every time the infant has breastmilk, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders and works very hard to fight them. This causes an allergic reaction. Some babies with a milk allergy have an allergic reaction soon after having milk and others have problems hours or days later that present as:
- Extreme fussiness
- Refusal to feed
- Diarrhea with or without blood
If you suspect that your breastfed infant has an allergy to milk, then speak to your child’s physician about your concerns. In most cases, removing milk protein from the mother’s diet leads to resolution of symptoms in the infant and the baby may continue to receive breastmilk.
In rare cases, the infant is not able to resume drinking breastmilk without redeveloping symptoms. My patient, Baby Ava, was found to be allergic to the milk protein in her mother’s breast milk. Despite eliminating milk protein and then several additional food proteins from Mother Emily’s diet, Baby Ava continued to do poorly. Eventually, Baby Ava was placed on a special hypoallergenic formula and is now thriving beautifully. Mother Emily decided that if Baby Ava could not use her breast milk, then she was going to put it to good use. Mother Emily donated 545 ounces of her stored breastmilk to The Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. Here she is dressed up like a cow dropping off her milk donation with Baby Ava along with her 2 other children.
“When you drop off 545 oz. of mama milk for precious NICU babies, you might as well dress up as a cow!” “Baby Ava is allergic to my milk protein, so we are thankful for the opportunity to give and pray for each ounce to help these babies fight and get stronger!”
The Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas collects breastmilk from healthy mothers who have a surplus of milk. Every donor mother is screened and the milk is tested and heat treated. The donor breastmilk is then dispensed to premature and fragile infants without access to their mother’s own milk. The use of the donor breastmilk has been proven to give these fragile babies a better chance of survival while decreasing complications. If you have milk you would like to donate, please go to Human Milk Banking Association of North America to find a bank near you.