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Breastfeeding children with a risk of allergy

Until recently the recommendation was to avoid giving certain foods to children with a risk of allergy for as long as possible. Now there are indications that early exposure to allergens increases tolerance.

A birth is something very special, and as a parent you want to give your child the very best. Above all, you want to prepare it for the future, which ideally also means protecting it from allergies.

If your baby has an elevated risk of allergy – in other words, if at least one parent or sibling suffers an allergy – it’s particularly important to take care. An allergic reaction takes place when the body is oversensitive to certain proteins in various allergens, for example foods, pollen and mites.

New findings
The World Health Organization (WHO) still recommends only breastfeeding for the first six months. There is clear evidence proving the preventive effect of breastfeeding in terms of the child’s development, especially in the first four months. It used to be assumed that it’s better for the baby to steer it clear of potential allergens for as long as possible. But more recent research shows that it’s a good thing for children aged four to six months to gradually be confronted with different foods to build up tolerance. Complementary feeding seems to potentially reduce the risk of allergy. On the other hand if you introduce solid foods you shouldn’t stop breastfeeding prematurely, as breast milk protects the intestine and makes it easier for the child to digest the new foods.

Common allergens:

  • Eggs
  • Non-human milk and dairy products
  • Pulses
  • Nuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Soya
  • Fish
  • Chocolate

Any more questions?
If you have questions related to breastfeeding and motherhood, as an insured member of SWICA you can call the doctors and healthcare professionals at sante24 for expert advice, free of charge, and around the clock. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86.

Swica is also supporting the Stillkampagne 2016 breastfeeding campaign which is running from May to July in German-speaking Switzerland. You’ll find more information at