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Following an Elimination Diet for Eczema While Breastfeeding

By Sara Ipatenco ; Updated June 13, 2017

In babies, eczema is a skin condition that sensitivity to certain foods can cause. If your baby is sensitive to a particular food you include in your breastfeeding diet, this food may contribute to eczema. If you suspect that this is the case, speak to your baby’s pediatrician about the benefits of an elimination diet.

Eczema 101

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common skin condition that affects children, affecting about one in five babies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. A baby can inherit eczema or he might develop it because of problems with the skin barrier, which can cause extremely dry skin. If your breastfeeding baby has eczema, it could also be related to the foods you eat -- with cow's milk being the top offender -- according to La Leche League International.

Elimination Diets Explained

An elimination diet requires that you eliminate a certain food or foods from your diet for several days to see if the baby’s reaction improves. You should keep a record of the foods you eat so that you can refer back to the record if a reaction, such as eczema, does occur, advises La Leche League International. If your baby already has eczema or if there is a family history of eczema, your baby's doctor might recommend that you eliminate the most common triggers, which include eggs, cow's milk, fish, peanuts and tree nuts. Wheat can be another trigger, according to Alan Greene, author of "Raising Baby Green."

How to Follow an Elimination Diet

Before you eliminate any foods from your diet, speak to your baby's doctor. If the doctor gives you the go-ahead, you'll probably need to eliminate most or all of the most common triggers from your diet. It can take up to two weeks to determine if the elimination diet is working or not, according to the AskDr.Sears website. From there, you'll add one food back into your diet at a time and then watch for a reaction. If a reaction occurs, eliminate that food from your diet. Every four days, you'll add another food that you've eliminated back into your eating plan. As you do this, you'll be able to determine which foods, if any, cause an eczema flare-up in your baby so that you can avoid these foods until you stop breastfeeding.

A Few Final Thoughts

Eliminating certain foods can help reduce the symptoms and severity of eczema, but it might not completely eliminate eczema. This might have little or no effect if the cause of your child's eczema has nothing to do with food sensitivities. Taking probiotics during pregnancy and for three months after your baby is born may reduce the risk of your breastfeeding baby developing eczema, according to a 2011 article published in "Canadian Family Physician." Ask your doctor if probiotics are right for you before taking them. If your baby's eczema isn't diet related, speak to his pediatrician about other treatment options such as topical creams or oral medications.

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