Told to Stop breastfeeding---Milk Allergy

Updated on February 15, 2010
E.C. asks from Haddonfield, NJ
29 answers

My daughter is 13 months old, recently she had some blood tests done and the results came back that she had slightly low hemoglobin levels. She then had a series of other blood tests done which all came back normal. The doctor took some stool samples and discovered trace amounts of blood in them, attributing the blood loss to this. The doctor is treating her for a milk allergy. She told me I should cut all dairy out of my diet (which makes sense) and start to wean my daughter immediately off the breast. Recommending I give her soymilk as her main milk source now. I am feeling uneasy with this recommendation to stop breastfeeding. I am wondering if anyone has had similar experiences??? I don't want to stop breastfeeding if I don't have to and it is still good for her...

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your suggestions, resources, and support. I most importantly got a second pediatrician's opinion, I called a La Leche League Leader, and talked to a lactation consultant from my local hospital. All of which said I could continue nursing safely if I choose to do so, and I am choosing to do so. Thanks again for your support!

More Answers



answers from Indianapolis on

I sure wouldn't quit nursing her. I can understand cutting dairy out of your diet since you are nursing her- but I would say to get a second opinion or ignore that Dr.

I have a few friends who had to give up dairy for thier lactose intolerant babies, but they were never told to stop nursing. Sounds like this is one of thtose people who believe you should be done nusring a baby at 12 months old to me. I personally thought 2 years old was best for my daughter and I. Some people say much older than that-... I say it's up to you!!

Good luck.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My milk took awhile to come in and they had to give our daughter formula in the hospital. She had an awful reaction to the soy formula, and tried her on a milk based formula, but found she had an allergy to that too. We went through tons of different "allergy free" formulas but they all had milk products in them. We had to go with one that had to be ordered from Abbott.

I had to eliminate both soy and dairy from my diet, but they didn't tell me to quit nursing! It's the cow dairy she's allergic to, not the mama dairy. We still nurse at 11 months. The allergist told us she'd grow out of it probably, and we could try starting a little dairy when she turns 1. If it goes badly, we'll have to back off until she's 2.

But I figure we'll start her on goat dairy. Less people have a problem with that. I have a dairy allergy myself, but find that sheep and goat doesn't affect me. Just cow. Stupid bovines!

And food labeling is a compete nightmare. I read an article just a week ago about some high school kids who did DNA testing on foods and found that of 66 items, 11 were labeled completely incorrectly, including a cheese that was supposed to be sheep and was in fact made with cows milk (and probably priced as an expensive sheep cheese!). Horrifying.

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answers from Allentown on

Hi, Mos:

Contact your local breast feeding consultant at La Leche League at

What you are saying the doctor is saying does not make sense. I would consider getting a second opinion. Ask ask your dr for a referral for a second opinion. Good luck. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I currently am a cheesemaker, and wanted to give you a little info on dairy. Cow milk is naturally undigestable for the most part for humans. This is why so many people can't "stomach it". Cheeses, yogurts and cottage cheese (one of the highest sources of protein) are fully digestable for us however because they have been chemically changed from milk and their proteins have been broken down.
That being said, I had to stop drinking milk when my son was born because it was giving him too much gas and pain, and he was spitting up too much. You don't have to cut out ALL dairy though. Eating cheeses, yogurt and cottage cheese will give you the protein and calcium you both need, and it will be MUCH easier on her as well.
I would probably get another doctor for your baby girl because it sounds like your doctor isn't fitting well with your beliefs and feelings. And as a mom, I know that my own sixth sense on something is ALWAYS better than one doctors oppinion.
Cut out the milk and see if that helps. You should notice a difference right away. And WAY TO GO with the breastfeeding! My son is 14 months old and still loves it also, and it gives us that one on one time that I will always cherish as memories when he's older. :)
Way to go, momma!

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answers from Allentown on

My daughter was anemic among other issues due to a milk allergy intolerance. I was told to cut out all dairy from my diet and hers. You need to be careful doing this as dairy is hidden in many things. But I was also told I could continue to nurse her as long as I was not eating dairy. I did this and she returned to normal, no more anemia and she was a much happier baby. I did all this around when she was 17 months old. She is now 4 and can now tolerate small amounts of heat treated dairy. However she nursed until she was 4 years old. I continued to nurse her because she couldn't have the dairy. So I am not sure why you were told different. Breastfeeding really helped my daughter and gave her the nutrients she was missing from not eating regular dairy. I would look into more or maybe get a second opinion.



answers from Philadelphia on

I have been in the same situation. My son had an allergy to milk protein (not just fluid milk) and was very sensitive from birth. Breastfeeding was important to me so I made the decision to be milk protien free in my diet so not to pass it to him. He breastfeed exclusively. Now, I will say that it is hard work to be completely dairy free. It took reading lots of labels in the store, looking for the key ingredients of milk protien (ex. whey, casein, caseinate, butter flavor, lactic acid). My son couldn't even tolerate things that were cooked in butter for example. Going out to eat was difficult. There are milk protein in things you would never expect too. I found that generic/store brands of things often don't have the milk protien. It seems like a lot of work but if you child really has a bad intolerance you should be doing that anyway for what you are going to feed her.

I was dairy free for about 9 months. It is possible to do. Fortunately my son has grown out of the more severe part of the allergy. He can now eat things cooked in butter, yogurt, pizza, etc. He still drinks soy milk to be safe and I continued to nurse him for a long while after I went back on dairy without a problem b/c he had grown out of the most severe reactions (which for him included very bad eczema, bad reflux, blood in the stool, respiratory problems - wheezing, etc.).

I would get a second opinion on the milk allergy. If she truly has one she can get allergy testing (RAST) to verify it. The doctors often want to wait until the child is a little older to do it but you can press them and get it done. It's a simple blood test.

My doctor was very supportive of me going dairy free and continuing to breastfeed. He said if I could do it, go ahead.

Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

That is not necessary. If you eliminate dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.) from your diet you can nurse her as long as you desire. You can have soy products or rice milk and rice dream, etc. to help with your own diet. My daughter has done this and nursed the last 3 for over 17 months.
Your milk is always the best thing for her, so go with your gut feeling and keep nursing her.
By the way, coffee creamer is non-dairy, so is cool whip, etc. Later she may grow out of it. Two of ours have so far.



answers from Los Angeles on

Consult with LLL or a lactation consultant. It seems extremely unlikely your daughter is allergic to YOUR milk! Cut out cow dairy for sure. I did when my son was 2 weeks old. If one has a true allergy to caisen or whey (the protiens in milk) there is a high likelyhood they will also be allergic to soy.
If you ignore the dr and keep bf just keep in mind it sometimes can take up to 2 weeks for your body to remove all milk protien so don't give up if you don't see immediate improvent.

By the way, there are TONS of benefits to extended breastfeeding!! Don't quit unless you and your daughter are both ready to quit.
I am still nursing my son and he will turn two this week!



answers from Pittsburgh on

My son was allergic to dairy and eggs. I eliminated both from my diet (including trace milk protiens found in many things) and continued nursing for many months. I purchased vegan products and soy products to make things easier. There are good recipies for vegan cake and icing online. When my son turned 3 he was retested and is now allergy free. I know allergies are difficult to diagnose accuratly in little ones, but when my son consumed any form of the know allergens he had diarrhea. If yours has an intolerance to animal milk protiens, that does not apply to your breastmilk. Your bodies basic formula for human milk is perfectly fine, but after 1 year of age and an exposure to cows milk babies can become highly sensitive to it in your diet. Hope this helps.



answers from Philadelphia on

Cutting out dairy out of your diet is the right thing to do if your daughter has a milk allergy, but it is not necessary to stop breastfeeding. However, it does take several weeks for dairy to completely pass thru the system, which may be why she recommended stopping BFing. Stopping BFing is not necessary when a child has a cow milk allergy.



answers from Philadelphia on

There is ABSOLUTELY no reason why you should stop breastfeeding. I went through this with my son, and my doctors told me to cut out all dairy (both regular like milk and cheese and hidden like whey and milk-based protiens) AND soy (because a lot of kids do not do well on soy if they have a milk allergy). My son was a lot younger, though, so not sure about the soy cross-over in older babies.

It's hard to cut out all the hidden dairy and soy, but it's doable. You eat mostly whole foods like raw and cooked fruit and veggies and meat...cutting out most of the processed stuff. I did it for 3 months. And, you have to do it for a couple weeks before it makes a difference because the proteins can linger in your body.

This doctor obviously doesn't know much about breastfeeding. I'd get another opinion and do some research on your own about your diet (there are some great sites out there that give you some food choices that don't have dairy or soy in them).

Feel free to send me a personal message with any questions.



answers from Fayetteville on

I agree with the other ladies - don't stop nursing and get another opinion. Also keep in mind that after cutting dairy out of your diet, it can still take up to a month to notice a difference in your baby.



answers from Allentown on

You have GOT to be kidding me!
You have much better instincts (and iformation, evidently!) than your doctor does!

Given the fact that breastmilk PREVENTS cancer for both you AND your daughter and large amounts of phytoestrogens (ie: soy products) can significantly increase the risk of it, it seems like a no-brainer to me! Keep nursing!!!

It wouldn't hurt to try & remove dairy products from your diet & to avoid them with your daughter. But this could've just been a fluke! Usually when an infant has an allergy from something in their diet or their mothers diet, the symptoms are pretty severe & persistant! Eczema is one of the most common symptoms.

You can find some excellent info on and through your local La Leche League.

Keep up the awesome work & keep trusting those great instincts of yours, mama! Keep nursing!



answers from York on

I had the same problems with my son. I started weaning him between feedings with soy milk and he did great. He has since out grown the allergy and is doing great. The hardest part of the weaning is the closeness. But, your daughter is 1 yrs old and should be ok with the transition. Ifs best for her to stop the milk products to keep her from allergies then thats what you should do. Good luck with the weaning.



answers from Philadelphia on

Do not stop least not before getting other opinions...professional, etc. Definately call La Leche League, as people have recommended. Is there a local Nursing Mothers' Advsory Group? Do you have a Lactation Consultant? (Mine was amazing!) Is your pediatrician nursing friendly? I am guessing perhaps not...or at least is a but ignorant about it. Good luck!


answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't stop nursing, either, and I think it's peculiar that the doctor would recommend that after you cut out dairy. In addition, I would google soy milk and read all that you can on the subject as there is research out there that says it is not a healthy choice for babies. Best of luck to you!



answers from Indianapolis on

I would get an other opinion ASAP to either confirm your doctor's recommendation or to provide an additional opinion.
Before taking the advice of other moms (no offense to other moms, but few of us have real medical training- including me), I'd get another medical opinion. Who knows how severe the allergies are, but you can at least give soy/rice milk for a few days while pumping to keep your breast milk levels up.

But, trust your doctor has yours and your child's best interests in mind over their own.
Blood in the stool can be very serious.

Lactose is also in breast milk - so if your child has a lactose allergy, it will be from breast milk as well as cow's milk. So, if your pediatrician is concerned about the lactose, it will be in both your food consumption as well as the breast milk. Lactose is the main source of carbohydrates (energy) in breast milk (here's the information )

The last thing I could bear as a parent was to do something that would unintentionally harm my child.



answers from Dallas on


I had the same problem with my son but he was a newborn. I tried to take everything out of my diet first and then that did not work so he was on a special perscription since he could not take soy either. Then he eventually was able to do the soy silk by 3 years old. I knwo how hard this is, just with cooking ever thing from scratch. There is dry milk in a lot of stuff.
I would first recommend taking all diary out of you for starters and this takes a while to do to get it out of your system and see if this helps. It is very hard.
We also had problems with water and I had to buy the baby water. Ive moved 3 times and still had problems with water.

Good luck. E-mail me if you need more info. I understand how hard it is. K.


answers from Austin on

Well, I'm going to offer a slightly different perspective. Yes I think breast feeding is a wonderful source for antibodies and immunity protection... However my personal view is that breast feeding (for calories, essential fats and proteins) is only as good as the mother own diet. And I'm sure that last sentence will tick off the pro-breastfeeding army. But I stand by it. I also have a different perspective because I do the non-milk diet for my daughter.

Cutting all dairy out of your diet will be difficult... Your pediatrician probably suggested giving up breast feeding because she realized how demanding of a dietary restriction it will be on you--plus she probably feels it is necessary to ensure there are no accidental milk traces in your daughter's diet. I am assuming that your daughter's hemoglobin levels will be retested in a few weeks?... So, the critical point will be whether her levels are more normal once her diet has been *absolutely* milk free beforehand. If you continue to breastfeed while you figure out your diet AND while your body cleans out milk protein traces, then that time period can't be seen as milk-free for your daughter... and the results for retesting will be tainted.

My daughter is allergic to cows milk. We did an entire year of the doctor, x-ray, blood test, antibiotic circus before I cut all forms of cow diary out of her diet (I tried to just cut out direct forms of dairy, but she still got sick. That's when I had to start reading labels...) Fortunately, she is only allergic to cows milk protein and can metabolize goat milk. However, your post uses the term "milk allergy" which could mean lactose intolerance (and that is not the same thing as a cows milk protein allergy). You ought to confirm with your pedi what exactly the allergy is... If she's allergic to lactose, then she can't metabolize and break down the sugar in milk (all milk); that is a lifelong allergy. If its an allergy to cows milk protein, your daughter may be able to digest goat milk--However some kids cannot have either goat milk or cows milk because goats and cows are closely related. Most kids outgrow a cows milk allergy between age 3-6 years.

I'm not a fan of soy protein (because of the way the body interprets it as the hormone estrogen) however if that is the only option for your daughter, then you go with soy. There is also a non milk, non-soy formula available.

If you decide to go for a non-milk diet for yourself, you will need to cut out all foods that contain "milk, casein, whey, butter". Start reading ingredient labels. Speaking from experience, its tough. Milk is in a lot of non-dairy things (like bread, crackers, margarine, salad dressing). And its hard to eat out... You're constantly asking what things are made with, were things cooked in butter. It is much easier to feed your small child a non-dairy diet than to maintain a non-dairy diet for yourself.

I will also mention that goat milk, goat yogurt, goat/sheep cheese is much more expensive than soy alternatives. So, one thing to consider is your home economics... What can you afford? We probably spend $250 per month on goat/sheep dairy products. I have become numb to the cost of groceries. I'm mentioning the cost factor because everyone will readily tell you not to go the soy route... However, there are other aspects to consider--mainly, the cost! No one seems to mention that as readily as all the negatives about soy.

I'm sure you will make the best decision for your baby. (And she will be fine!)



answers from Allentown on

You do not have to stop breastfeeding just b/c your child has a milk intolerance or allergy. I imagine it was suggested b/c then you will be able to determine that your child is not in fact getting any dairy....since it is very difficult to cut it out completly (read all the labels- it's in A LOT of food), though very possible. I have several friends w/ children who have severe allergies & still BF well into the 2nd year.
If you feel strongly about continuing to BF then disregard what the doc is telling you. I don't always follow doctors orders when it comes to my own children & what I feel is best for them. I've found the docs sometimes turn up their noses to BF'ing after 1 year, when in fact it's now recommended longer.
Also a lot of times children will outgrow these intolerances, so you don't want to "kick" yourself for discontinuing the nursing for her to outgrow the intolerence. I'd say if you're just finding out now of it chances are it's not to extreme.
Anyhow Good luck Mama! Wishing you the best.



answers from Raleigh on

IS your doctor breastfeeding friendly? I would not stop and would get a second opinion. See if you can find a dr who supports breastfeeding after 12 months.


answers from Minneapolis on

A dairy intolerance is from the PROTEIN, not lactose. Cut it out of your diet, but the highly processed stuff (like yogurt) liekly won't bother her. My oldest had a dairy protein allergy that presents as eczema, and as long as we keep all the dairy out of his diet (mostly milk and ice cream) we can control it with probiotics and fish oils.

If you feel strongly about breastfeeding, and its obviously you do( and good for you!) keep going Just cut out the major dairy (coffee creamer, milk, ice cream, etc). It can take up to 2wks for the dairy to exit your body and hers.


answers from Pittsburgh on

What the heck? Wow...I've never heard that, that is a good question to put up on the board!

I would demand to know, if you cut out all dairy, what is the logic of stopping breastfeeding. Soymilk is a VERY poor substitute. Is this because the Doctor thinks (like so many doctors here) that it is "time" because she is past the one year mark? If so, nuts to her! But (and this remember I am not a Doctor here) if there is actually a medical reason that she gives you, get a second opinion, and call La Leche League, and see if they have ever heard of such a thing.

I have heard of people saying that they couldn't breastfeed because their baby was "allergic to their breastmilk", which you know is bunk, they CAN be allergic to the milk protien from the mother. But remove those, I don't see the issue....but hey, get another opinion from a qualified Doctor.

P.s Years back, when my Mom was nursing my brother and he got a cold at 7 months of age, the Doctor made her wean him and put him on ORANGE JUICE! Just to show how the medical profession is sometimes ignorant to the benefits...its just you would think they would know better now...huh...keep us posted? I'm really curious about this one!



answers from Harrisburg on

If you have to cut out dairy you may find this website helpful
It is for breastfeeding moms who have to cut out dairy. They have a facebook site too.

Weaning could reduce her hemoglobin levels even more, so I too would get a second opinion and have allergy tests done to be sure it is dairy causing the trace blood in the stool. I found the following info on a website called Kellymom:

The iron in breastmilk is bound to proteins which make it available to the baby only, thus preventing potentially harmful bacteria (like E.coli, Salmonella, Clostridium, Bacteroides, Escherichia, Staphylococcus) from using it. These two specialized proteins in breastmilk (lactoferrin and transferrin) pick up and bind iron from baby's intestinal tract. By binding this iron, they

1. stop harmful bacteria from multiplying by depriving them of the iron they need to live and grow, and
2. ensure that baby (not the bacteria) gets the available iron.

The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption. As long as your baby is exclusively breastfed (and receiving no iron supplements or iron-fortified foods), the specialized proteins in breastmilk ensure that baby gets the available iron (instead of "bad" bacteria and such). Iron supplements and iron in other foods is available on a first come, first served basis, and there is a regular "free-for-all" in the baby's gut over it. The "bad" bacteria thrive on the free iron in the gut. In addition, iron supplements can overwhelm the iron-binding abilities of the proteins in breastmilk, thus making some of the iron from breastmilk (which was previously available to baby only) available to bacteria, also. The result: baby tends to get a lower percentage of the available iron.

Supplemental iron (particularly when administered in solution or as a separate supplement rather than incorporated into a meal) can interfere with zinc absorption. In addition, iron supplements and iron-fortified foods can sometimes cause digestive upsets in babies.

A recent study (Dewey 2002) found that routine iron supplementation of breastfed babies with normal hemoglobin levels may present risks to the infant, including slower growth (length and head circumference) and increased risk of diarrhea.

A recent review article on iron (Griffin and Abrams, 2001) indicates that if your baby is basically healthy, iron deficiency in the absence of anemia should not have developmental consequences.

To read the full article go to


answers from Pittsburgh on

I had to stop eating dairy when I nursed my son, because it was determined that he had a dairy allergy. But at no time did my doctor suggest that I stop nursing due to the allergy. And when I stopped eating dairy, my son's allergic symptoms disappeared.

I would DEFINITELY get another opinion. Additionally, I recall being told or reading that if a child has a diary allergy, it is also likely that they may also have a senistivity or allergy to soy. Not completely sure on that one, so don't take that as gospel, but I'd definitely get more information before I made any drastic changes.



answers from Lancaster on

My daughter was allergic to milk and it caused colic type symptoms. I cut all dairy from my diet and the problem was solved! I'm sure cutting out the dairy you are eating will be enough - maybe the dr recommended to stop breastfeeding because your daughter was over 12 months (?) I know some like to use that age as a cut off.



answers from Los Angeles on

I can't imagine that at 13 mos. you would need to stop nursing just because of a milk intolerance. Are you exclusively breastfeeding at this age? I doubt it - and I doubt that your child is getting a ton of nutritional benefits at this stage from nursing, meaning if you're feeding her solids, then nutritiion isn't the case for stopping as some others suggested. Why would you put a 13 month old on formula anyway? I wonder if some of these other posters didn't really read your post and just assumed this was an infant???? In any event - I imagine that if you want to continue - try cutting out forms of dairy that have the highest levels of cow's milk protein in them - as in liquid milk, cheese, etc. Eat yogurt, goat cheese is awesome and does not contain the same types of proteins as cow's millk. I would avoid the soy milk because it has estrogen in it - every now and then probably wouldn't hurt - but to substitute it for regular milk, in my humble opinion, would not be idea. There are many other sources of protein - and you want to make sure your daughter is getting vitamin d3 and calcium - which can be found in other foods. Try rice milk - she might like that.



answers from Denver on

I had this issue w/ my son at 8 weeks - visably mucusy and bloody stool and VERY colicky at night. I was told - even with symptoms that severe I could take ALL Dairy out of my diet - 2 weeks for it to exit my system. OR change to a special formula that had already digested milk protein in it. I didn't want to stop breastfeeding, but in my case I felt I was making him miserable and he was clearly in PAIN! In my case, I switched to formula and he was MUCH better in a few days. However, if his symptoms hadn't been as bad, I wouldn't have stopped nursing. Weigh out her discomfort to what's best for her. No need to stop nursing if you can control your diet... and fix the problem. Do what's best for her overall.


answers from Williamsport on

I would get other opinions. Your doctor sounds a bit behind the times (like mine) and most doctors are not good nutritionists. Milk allergies are EXTREMELY highly over diagnosed, and its tragic, because you cannot replace the protein, vitamin D, calcium and essential fats (brain development)percentages any other way easily. My vegan friend was just diagnosed with rickets from lack of vitamin D and her kids have other problems. Soy is NOT a good replacement for milk. It is highly engineered and even the calcium supplement they add is debatable. If you google risks of soy you'll be astonished. We are pretty much vegetarian, and we do eat some tofu occasionally, but I refused to give up organic cow and goat milk when my kids turned 1. Giving up dairy was the first thing my doctor suggested fro every kid for every problem. There are too many nutrients in them to skip for very young kids if you can POSSIBLY help it, and true allergies are much more rare than we are told. At 13 months, you don't NEED to nurse, but you're right, if you can and want to, you should, so PLEASE get a few other opinions before believing the milk allergy thing. It's very risky.

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