Are nipple cream and formula increasing food allergies?

As I am about to become a father again, I am often interested in the recommendations that are suggested to my wife when it comes to food and tips that might be of use once junior has arrived.  With the huge rise in sensitivities and allergies (some valid and some just neurotic) that are seen both in my practice and across the globe I thought it might be worth looking at possible etiologies of these issues. Now I am not someone who recommends expensive food allergy tests. I would rather look at other factors that can help to bring resolution with the digestive system and simple exclusion diets can help to determine food allergies.  If we look at gluten and wheat for example, there are some well founded issues such as celiac disease which warrant exclusion from the diet. When the digestive system is stressed we can often become more sensitive to gluten but many people do not have gluten issues. Poorly produced grains may be part of the problem of a failing metabolism. easy way to try, cut it out, do you feel better. Ok exclude it for a short while!

It’s nothing new to say that the quality of air, food and water, have gone dramatically downhill, I think most intelligent people agree on that. The ingestion of poor quality and chemically loaded foods can do a great deal to trigger immune responses in both mother and baby. It is also clear that the ingestion of Poly-unsaturated fatty acids or PUFA’s can lead to these changes too. The sad thing is that many of these products find their way into milk replacements such as baby formula.  I am not going to get caught up in the, how long a mother should breast feed for, as it is clearly beneficial to breast feed for as long as possible. In a recent study the following was suggested

‘PUFAs may predispose to allergy and a diet rich insaturated fatty acids and low in PUFAs may be one factor explaining the low allergy prevalence among children growing up on dairy farms.’

A previous blog talks about PUFA’s

This is part of my own confirmation bias that PUFA’s are far worse than saturated fats so I would encourage you to make your own conclusions on this.From the suggestions that my wife has received there have been two very clear factors that struck a cord with me and warranted further investigation.

These were pre and post and post natal nutrition recommendations and nipple cream. Yes nipple cream but first the nutrition recommendations!

 The doctor recommended a supplement that had omega 3 fatty acids which by many accounts show links to increased allergies, as can omega 6 PUFA’s.  Another recommendation was for baby formula. Below are the ingredients of a well-known baby formula that made my eyes roll…

Lactose, Vegetable Oils (including Structured Vegetable Oil), Skimmed Milk Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate (enriched in Alpha-Lactalbumin), Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin), Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Citrate, L-Tyrosine, Vitamin C, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Inositol, Ferrous Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, L-Tryptophan, Cytidine-5′-Monophosphate, L-Carnitine, Antioxidants (Tocopherol-Rich Extract and Ascorbyl Palmitate), Disodium Uridine-5′-Monophosphate, Vitamin E, Niacin Adenosine-5′-Monophosphate, Pantothenic Acid, Disodium Guanosine-5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Inosine-5′-Monophosphate, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Copper Sulphate, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulphate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin K, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin B12.

There are many factors in here which could provide a possible pathway to the development of a food allergy. It’s worth noting that most (90% of produced) vegetable oils and soy (which is highly estrogenic) come from genetically modified sources. There are significant studies that show that these foods are known carcinogens and could certainly assist in the development of an allergy.

cocnut

Now onto that nipple cream! Lanolin was recommended some of my wife’s friends. Lanolin..I had only heard that word echoed by the great Ron Burgandy in Anchorman so I decided to check it out.  Lanolin is a moisturiser secreted into sheep’s wool  and used in treating cracked skin but get this. When ingested it can lead to poisoning and skin conditions…and women put it on their nipples when breast feeding!?  Is it possible that lanolin ingestion by new born babies could trigger allergenic responses? It’s a possibility for sure.  Instead of reaching for creams like lanolin, using good quality saturated fats like coconut oil can provide a much safer alternative and cost next to nothing.

Less is often more and whilst I believe that we may still be evolving to deal with threats of known toxins that permeate life across the globe. Natural products like coconut oil can serve to help protect both mother and child without the need for chemicals that may cause a problem.

1.  Van den Elsen, L; van Esch, B; Hofman, G; Garssen, J; Willemsen, L. A high fat soy oil diet prevents oral tolerance induction and enhances allergic symptoms in a mouse model of cow’s milk allergy Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

2. http://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/140637.pdf

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908161444.htm