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DianeByrd

Nursing Infant Gluten Free

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Our family is about to go on a gluten-free trial for 6 weeks because of our 2 1/2 year old (Enterolab results are positive and previous gluten-free trial a year ago was successful). I suspect that my husband, 9 year old son, and myself may all have a gluten intolerance. My question is what to do with my 8 month old daughter who is breastfed and has only been given a few low allergenic gluten-free foods (vegies, fruits, brown rice cereal). I realize she may have been exposed to gluten through my milk if I have a leaky gut. Is that right? I've read, though, that it is best to introduce gluten while they are still breastfeeding to prevent a reaction. If the next six weeks prove very successful and we don't want to go back, should I give her gluten or just keep her gluten free, too?

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I wish I could give you more conclusive information, but more research needs to be done on this. Check for Tiffany's post in Urine is it safe? on the contents of gluten in breastmilk. The most recent articles on when to introduce gluten into the infant's diet,if I remember right is 5 to 7 months.

L.

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Hi,

Trying to answer your questions in order:

1- Proteins (such as gluten) can be in breastmilk REGARDLESS of leaky gut. It happens with perfectly healthy women as well.

2- Preliminary studies have shown that breastfeeding during the time of introducing gluten does lower the odds of celiac. It is in no way a guarantee, and has a small effect, not huge. In addition, scientists have yet to determine if breastfeeding reduces the odds of celiac, or simply delays the onset of celiac. I am extraordinarily pro-breastfeeding, definitely keep bf'ing, but I wouldn't put myself or my child on gluten based on these preliminary studies.

If your son has celiac, you will probably want a gluten free or near gluten free house. This means (practically speaking) keeping your baby/toddler gluten free in the house and anywhere near your son, just because this age is notoriously messy, lol!

I can tell you my own experience.....I was diagnosed celiac when ds was age 2. We were unable to test him as he was nursing and his test could show my positive result. So a few months later, I took him gluten-free as a precaution. I figured better safe than sorry. I have celiac, my mom has celiac, and we think her mom had celiac. I don't know if he has celiac, but he's been gluten-free for the past 2 years and is perfectly healthy. He doesn't NEED gluten, yk? I plan on testing him when he's at least 5 years old - which means 6 months of eating gluten (a slice or two of bread a day) and then a blood test.

Why age 5? by then a kid's immune system has had time to mature and is similar to an adults. Also, many major developmental milestones will have been passed - ie, won't be delayed or otherwise messed up by gluten reaction. And, he will be better able to verbalize if he is not feeling well during the test.

Hth,

Merika

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Just to add, which you probably already know... Even if you son tests negative initially, you should keep an eye on him and have him tested again down the line...he could develop it later.

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Just FYI,

My son was exclusively breastfed. When we tried to introduce solids @ 6-9 months, he didn't want them. Some said that he was too dependent on the breast and we should take him off and he would eat. We didn't listen. By 12 months, he still refused almost all solid foods and any attempt to get him to eat. The Doctor said that he had never seen a child so dependent on nursing, and that I should cut back on the nursing and make him eat. It felt wrong to start weaning, but I thought maybe I was letting him nurse too much and for a week I drastically cut back and fed him table food. Immediately he was deadly ill. He lost over a pound that week (and he was little to start with). He began to have cyclical vomiting episodes, he would violently throw up about 12 times in 45 min. and then go limp. He was SO SICK! My husband and I took him to the Doctor several times that week. By Friday he was so sick that he had appointments at the allergist, the endocrinologists, the GI Doc., and the dermatologist. The appointments were spread out over the month. He was in the hospital and the Doctor's office constantly. His skin was covered in dry and itching spots, he was loosing weight at an alarming rate. He had stopped growing at 9 months old. At first they thought he just was running it all off (he was very active), but by this time we all knew something was wrong. He didn't grow at all (height, weight, or head cir.) from 9 months until 18 months. He was diagnosed with celiac at around 16 months old, he was still nursing like a crazy boy. By this time we were at a university hospital with a nationally known celiac pediatrician to confirm his diagnosis. Of course, now there was no nonsense about him "nursing too much", in fact, the Doctor credited his amazing ability to cope and thrive with all the breastmilk. Despite his long struggle, he was doing very well on the developmental scale. He has food allergies as well. He is just now (at 2 and a half years), cut down to nursing only a few mornings a week. He just finished a several month process of developmental assessment. There were concerns about the terrible state of his intestines and his ability to absorb nutrients for such a long time. His only issue seems to be a delay in speech articulation. He scored 6 months ahead on the other areas! I realize this doesn't have a lot to do with your question, but I think people should know that nursing can make such a difference for a sick child! Also, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and listen to your children's body. If we had cut him off completely (as was recommended at the time), I honestly don't know what would have happened. Today, even that Doctor realizes what nursing did for my son. Out celiac Doc. said that breastmilk is so easily digested that even with severe blunting, he was able to absorb the breastmilk, thus avoiding more serious delays and complications. I am amazed at what our bodies can do. My little guy almost drove me crazy (he night nursed until two months ago - almost as bad as a newborn). Now, he hardly asks at all. It seems a small sacrifice to make for such a big payoff in health. I only nursed my first child for two weeks, so it is funny to see him go past two years! I never thought I would do that! All this to say, keep nursing! And, we are living proof that nursing does not prevent celiac. However, it has held off allergies. He has a lot of them and we have seen a major increase in symptoms since the nursing has almost stopped. Best wishes to you and your little nursling!

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Wow, elfkin, what an amazing story. Breastmilk really is a beautiful food. I've come across a lot of stories in which a child who nurses exclusively past one year and well beyond is often the child with food allergies. They seem to know what is best for them!

My ds nursed exclusively til 11 mos, and nightnursed every 2 hours or so until around age 2. It was exhausting. But i think he really needed it. Also, after we took soy out of his diet, he started sleeping longer and nursing less at night.

We nursed til he was almost 3 years old. We probably would have even gone past, but a few months before he turned 3 I started to get really sick and my body was rebelling and needed to take precedence at that point. I was diagnosed with celiac when he was 2 and my body, what with long term celiac damage, pregnancy, baby-care (ie all those sleepless nights, lol), and nursing took it's toll.

I never would have thought I'd be nursing a 3 yr old, lol. I thought maybe 6 mos top, but hey, you go with the kid you get. He's taught me a lot :D You're doing a great job!

Merika

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I love hearing other people's nursing stories! Sounds like you did an awesome job with yours! Mine suprised me this morning by asking to nurse. He hasn't been asking lately. I said, "Are you sure? I could get you a drink in a cup if you like." He leaned his head up on me and said, (in his adorable two year old voice), "Mama, I NEED to nurse." So he did! It was very cute. He was satisfied after only a few moments. I wonder if he will still be nursing a time or two a week at three. He doesn't ask as much anymore, but still seems to need it every now and again. Best wishes to you!

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