Navigating Breastfeeding and Newborn Allergies with Trill Paullin, Ph.D.

Today Kim had the opportunity to sit down with Trill Paullin to discuss food sensitivities and allergies in breastfed children. Trill is a Molecular Biologist who has two children that faced severe allergies and sensitivities while breastfeeding. Because of this, she started research on producing easy-to-digest breast milk. Through her own journey, Trill discovered that many parents experience the same troubling situation. She wanted to create a place for parents to find answers to their questions about infant food sensitivities and empower them to continue in their breastfeeding journey. This is how her company, Free to Feed was born. 

What to Do When Babies and Newborns Have Allergies 

When breastfed babies are starting to face stomach issues, a lot of parents are immediately told to do either an elimination diet or switch to formula. This is because, with formula, it’s easy to read and see every ingredient that’s inside of the formula. With breastmilk, it’s not so simple to know everything that is making up the substance. However, the issue with a hypoallergenic formula is the cost. Trill was faced with this cost when she had her first child and was in grad school. She couldn’t afford to pay $50 for hypoallergenic formula! Because of this, Trill was on a mission to make her breast milk hypoallergenic. 

The Mission of Free to Feed

Trill’s mission of Free to Feed is to “empower parents to continue on their breastfeeding journey through food allergies and to help them navigate next steps.” She wants to help parents through every feeding step. Her ultimate mission is to create a testing strip for breastmilk that can identify any allergens in breast milk. That would be an amazing resource for parents to have! 

A lot of parents of newborns who are facing allergies have a lot of questions like what can I eat? How should I help my child? What qualifies as an allergy? Free to Feed is a subscription-based service with 1:1 consults where parents can ask all the questions they need to figure out what’s wrong. It also helps parents determine the best resources to move forwards, as well as meal plans and recipe ideas. 

Something that Free to Feed also helps with is deciding if the switch to a formula is best, and if so, what kind of formula. They are there to help at every step in the feeding journey. While they specialize in newborn allergies, they can also help with sensitivities in older children. They have a full team of pediatric NP’s that can help. 

Questions on Newborn and Children Allergies

Kim proceeds to ask Trill questions about allergies in general – questions that are hopefully helpful to any parent in this situation.

Do Children Outgrow Allergies and Sensitivities? 

Trill says this is a very common question and depends on the type of intolerance. For allergies that show up on an allergy test, it’s not likely that those will be outgrown. But, most infants who are highly sensitive to breastmilk are facing non-IGE-mediated allergies. These types of food allergies are caused by a reaction involving other components of the immune system and the reactions don’t appear immediately after the ingestion of food. 

Unfortunately, these non-IGE-mediated allergies aren’t typical and can’t be shown in a test. But, the good news is they are highly likely to be outgrown. Trill says that current research shows that the rate for children to outgrow non-IGE-mediated allergies is 57% by age 1, 87% by age 3, and in the high 90’s by age 5. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Trill’s own two daughters have outgrown the intense allergies they had while breastfeeding. They are now growing, thriving kids and are able to eat everything. 

Why Are There So Many Allergies in General? Should We Be Introducing Foods Earlier to Prevent Allergies? 

A handful of years ago, the most common advice for new parents was to wait as long as possible to introduce foods with likely allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, milk, wheat, etc.). This delay has likely caused some of the spikes in allergies. 

Now, due to research, the common advice is not to delay these high-allergen categories, but to introduce them earlier. Trill says that there are certain foods that can benefit from early introduction, like peanuts, eggs, and tree nuts. She advises you to introduce those when you feel ready, and not to delay for too long. Don’t try to avoid all the categories of allergen foods, but introduce them when you feel ready. 

Why is There a Rise in Gluten Allergies?

When thinking of newborns specifically, Trill says that infants more often have an issue with wheat over gluten. When the newborn is breastfed, this sensitivity turns to the breastfeeding parent needing to eliminating wheat. In newborns, sensitivity to wheat is a non-IGE-mediated allergy, so it can’t be tested for, but the child will often outgrow it. 

Are Food Allergies Shown to Have a Genetic Link? 

Trill says that yes, but you don’t have to have a parent with a food allergy to develop one. Not only is it possible to pass down food allergies, but if you have one child with food allergies, it’s more likely that your other children will have it as well. 

Navigating the Future Steps with Newborn Allergies

Just like we need to be case managers for our own health, we need to step into that role for our children as well. Free to Feed is a space for parents to do that. It’s a space to help ease a parent’s anxiety when dealing with newborn allergies. 

Unfortunately, this topic is well studied or well taught to new parents. The main advice given to parents facing newborn allergies is to stop breastfeeding and to switch to formula. This advice isn’t helpful or financially realistic for everyone. There is not a lot of education on the transferability of foods into breastmilk. 

Free to Feed is here to help and to lighten the burden of parents who are facing newborn allergies.

Connect With Trill and Free to Feed


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