What causes infant allergies?
What are typical allergy symptoms that you might see in baby?
A large proportion of the clients I see bring their newborn infants in the first few weeks after birth for a craniosacral therapy treatment. During the initial chat with parents - many ask if their baby’s discomfort may be due to some particular allergy symptoms. They become curous about the different types of baby allergies.
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the question. Many different triggers appear to set off symptoms of allergies. Please remember that infant allergies may have one, or more, triggers – and this is why it is essential to consult with your healthcare professional to examine and diagnose your individual situation.
However, I have divided the triggers into different groups so that we can examine them more clearly. Let’s have a look at some of the more common triggers:
Allergies Triggered by Foods.
The most common allergy trigger I see among babies is brought on by cow’s milk. Cow’s milk forms the basis of most formulas and even breastfed babies are affected if mum is eating dairy in her diet. The protein components in the milk cause allergy or an intolerance (the digestive tract is unable to digest casein or whey, the two major components of milk) for the baby. Cow milk allergy and intolerance to milk protein can cause discomfort and upset in some babies.
Symptoms of milk protein allergy or intolerance - look out for reflux, bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as symptoms of milk protein intolerance.
If you are worried about these conditions and feel your baby may have a dietary issue then check with your doctor. He or she may refer you to a special feeding clinic where the necessary tests are done (e.g. stool test) or recommend on to a paediatrician.
Food triggers may also contribute to eczema and asthma. Allergy testing will indicate which foods to avoid that will help in alleviating these conditions. However, it is important to remember that there may be non-food triggers also causing your baby’s condition – and that’s what we’ll look at next.
Infant Allergies Triggered by Stress:
Stress is the biggest non-food trigger I see - whether it’s emotional, physical or mental – stress can exasperate the allergic reaction. This is an area where craniosacral therapy can assist greatly in relieving stresses in the body by improving the nervous system and the functioning of the immune system.
Allergies Triggered by Contact with an irritant:
Some infants have an allergic reaction to physical irritants e.g. clothes, detergents, soaps and creams. You may notice a rash or hives where there is contact with the irritant. Watch out too for harmful paints and aerosols in the environment.Dust and pollen are problematic for some infants causing symptoms such as breathing difficulties or red and swollen eyes.
Some babies may be sensitive to animal hair – bringing on what are commonly called cat allergies and dog allergies. Allergy testing will again indicate the possible triggers that cause the discomfort. However, there may be more than one allergen causing your infant’s allergy. Perseverance is needed while testing and eliminating the allergens. I myself refer my clients onto a local doctor who specialises in allergy testing – clients then reduce their exposure to their allergans - and we continue with treatments to assist the functioning of the body’s immune system.
I first saw Molly when she was two months old. Jill, her mother was concerned about her daughter and felt she wasn’t “settled”. She was uncomfortable lying on her back and liked to feed sitting up. During the consultation I noted the condition of the infant’s skin. Jill pointed out that Molly had red patches, pimples and dryness - she also had excessive cradle cap. Her breathing was laboured and she had a nasty cough.
During that first treatment I treated Molly sitting upright in her mother’s arms. Using a light touch I worked with the dura mater membrane system that surrounds the spine. This felt stuck and especially restricted at the base of the skull. This could have happen at birth if the baby’s head is bent backwards in an attempt to speed up the birth. By relieving her neck hyperextension Molly’s spine and head bones significantly improved. After this treatment Molly was able to lie flat and feed comfortably in any position.
When I saw Molly for a second treatment and we discussed her progress . While she was comfortable feeding – her skin condition hadn’t improved. I suggested that she receive a food allergy test. The results from this test showed that Molly had a problem with digesting lactose in her formula feed. She was given a substitute formula and her skin improved significantly within 2 weeks.
In further treatments we worked on the vagus nerve which passes out of the base of the skull and has an influence on stomach and bowel function as well as breathing and heart rhythm. After each treatment Molly become more content, slept well, her skin cleared, she had large bowel movements and her mother’s sleep deprivation was a thing of the past.
In summary, Infant allergies typically need to be approached – in my experience – with the following combination: Testing for the cause of the allergy – and then remove the trigger. In Molly’s case Craniosacral Therapy was very effective in removing restrictions, providing more comfort and assisting her body’s optimum functioning in coping with allergies. But it was essential to remove the allergy triggers to ensure a complete return to health.