share to:

Allergies, Babies and Breastfeeding

Spring is in the air and many new parents have questions. Here are answers to the 2 biggest questions about Allergies and Babies!

Q: Can 0-6 month babies experience allergies? 

A:  Seasonal allergies are thought not to present until after age 3, after exposure to several seasons of a particular allergen.  Genetics are also thought to play a role in one’s allergy risk. The impacts of infant genetics are likely augmented by maternal nutrition and environmental factors during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Maternal exposure to allergens be it through food or the environment allow for transfer of allergens, Igs, cytokines, and immune cells from mom to baby through the placenta during pregnancy and through breastfeeding which likely shape the infant’s immune responses.  The limited understanding we have of this process is that babies are exposed early and over a period of time that promotes tolerance to the allergen instead of susceptibility. One well studied immune response to allergies is asthma. Evidence shows that longer duration of any breastfeeding as opposed to less breastfeeding decreases childhood asthma risk. Another allergy immune response shown to be improved with breastfeeding is eczema.  Exclusive breastfeeding for 3 to 4 months decreases infant and toddler atopic disease. Both asthma and eczema can be triggered from seasonal allergens often found in the spring, summer, and fall but providing breastmilk may decrease risk.  

Q: Does allergy medicine pass through breastmilk? 

A:  Yes, but usually a small amount. It’s best to stay away from antihistamines such as Benadryl as it has a sedating effect. If it makes you sleepy then it can make your baby sleepy. A better antihistamine would be Claritin or Zyrtec. Stay away from products with pseudoephedrine (nasal decongestant like Sudafed or Claritin D) as this product can reduce milk supply. Afrin can be used for nasal swelling and congestion but for no longer than 3 days. Flonase is also considered safe. For cough suppression stay away from Tesslon pearls, this is an L4 medication, although we do not know how much passes into the breast milk we know that this medication can be very toxic in relatively low dosages, instead take Robitussin or Mucinex and L2 medication.  


Fujimura,T. Lum, S. Nagata,Y. Kawamoto, S. Oyoshi, M.(2019) Influences of maternal factors over offspring allergies and the application for food allergy.Frontiers in Immunology, 10, Article 1933. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.01933

Jackson KD, Howie LD, Akinbami LJ. Trends in allergic conditions among children: United States, 1997–2011. NCHS Data Brief, No 121. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2013. Available at: Accessed February 5, 2019

Kramer MS, Matush L, Vanilovich I, et al; Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT) Study Group. Effect of prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding on risk of allergy and asthma: cluster randomised trial. BMJ. 2007;335(7624):815[PubMed]

This article was written for Work & Mother by Ann Gabaldon. Ann is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) practicing full scope midwifery care in New Mexico. For discounts and member exclusives on products and services to help with breastfeeding, visit our Shop and Tenant Log-In pages.

you might also like: