Do You Have A Baby With Colic Or GERD? Your Baby May Be Having Immune Related Reactions To Food!

March 13, 2011 · Filed Under Babies With Colic Or GERD 

Having a baby with colic or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be very worrisome and quite exhausting. There is nothing more heart wrenching then caring for a baby who is suffering. Especially, when no one is offering an answer (other than medications) to help take away their baby’s symptoms. I am writing this post today to share that there is hope and that many possible factors should be ruled out.

For one, babies may react to the breast milk or formula they are consuming if their immune system identifies the food (or something within the food) as a foreign antigen (a threat). In this situation, identifying the foods the baby is reacting to and removing those foods can make the symptoms disappear. Interesting, babies who are breast fed may also react to foods the mother is consuming as well (since it can be passed through the breast milk). If this is the case, then the mother may need to change her diet so that her breast milk won’t be contaminated with the food the baby is reacting to. Identifying the problematic foods for the mother (she may be reacting to foods too) and infant may be all that is needed to make the symptoms disappear.

Now you may be thinking, how do I know what foods are triggering this reaction in my infant? Almost every food can potentially cause a reaction, sometimes it is a chemical added to the food. In my experience, a referral to an allergist can help to check for IgE mediated allergies and doing tests in both the mother and infant may be helpful. A knowledgeable naturopathic doctor can check for IgA and IgG mediated reactions to foods. If breast feeding, I think it is valuable for both the mother and infant to be checked for all types of allergies. Your physician may suggest an elimination diet to check the results if there is any doubt, all tests can potentially have false negative results. Discuss this with your physician.

I also suggest talking to your doctor about a referral to a gastroenterologist to test for any diseases that may affect the bowel (in the baby and the mother), such as celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis (reaction to gluten in food). A dermatologist may need to biopsy skin rashes to check for dermatitis herpetifomis (reactions to gluten). As well, ask for testing to rule out non-celiac gluten intolerance (discussed more in my book in the diagnostic chapter).

Pancreatic insufficiency and a lack of digestive enzymes from the pancreas or the bowel (i.e. lactose intolerance) can cause bowel symptoms as well. A referral to check for lactose intolerance and testing for the presence of pancreatic insufficiency (i.e. Fecal elastase-1 levels) may be helpful. A state of dysbiosis (imbalance in natural flora) in the bowel may contribute so discuss the use of probiotics with your physician and testing for bacterial or fungal infections.

Below, I provided links to articles that described other people’s experiences and a link to one article I wrote about GERD. You can take these articles with you to the doctor. Please review all of this information and your child’s or baby’s symptoms with your doctor before making any changes. Always have a child who is in distress assessed by a doctor immediately to ensure that they are okay. There may be other conditions that need to be ruled out with other tests. Some conditions might be life threatening and need immediate treatment by a doctor (please don’t self diagnose due to associated risks).

Take a deep breath, I know your journey to this point has been difficult. As a parent of 3, I wish I could reach through and give you a cyber hug. Overall, I suggest taking one day at a time, come up with a coactive plan with your physician and work through these possibilities:)

Note: If your infant is allergic to corn, call the manufacturer of your vitamin D supplement (if your doctor recommends vitamin D) since sometimes vitamin D drops are derived from corn. In this situation, you can discuss alternative supplements with your allergist.

1. Have You Been Diagnosed With Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Heartburn, Or Indigestion? You Could Be Having Immune Mediated Reactions To Foods!

2. I don’t believe in colic!

3. From GERD to Great: Abigail’s Story

I wish you and your infant the best that life has to offer!

Shelly Stuart, R.N., B.Sc.N.


3 Responses to “Do You Have A Baby With Colic Or GERD? Your Baby May Be Having Immune Related Reactions To Food!”

  1. Samantha on April 15th, 2011 6:43 am

    I could cry just reading this. My son is 12 and was diagnosed with Celiac one year ago. He had reflux as a baby, colic, many many horrible nights. We told the doctor. He told me to stop breastfeeding and give a lacto free formula. No help. I was, and still am a neonatal nurse. My colleauges assured me I was a nervous first time mom. They brought me formula. Hind sight, as you know, is 20/20. He ended up, despite the reflux, being a fat little baby. But as time passed–and with the introduction of lovely goldfish crackers, cheerios and the like, he began losing weight. Doc said he was an active, growing boy. More weight loss–could see his ribs. Moodiness, irritability started in kindergarten. Doc said hormones. We switched to all organic–I KNEW there was some relation to his moodiness and what he ate. I couldn’t put my finger on it. He would eat 3 plates of spaghetti then have a terrible stomachache–we thought sure you do, you ate 3 plates of spaghetti. Hind sight. That was his only GI symptom other than the reflux & colic as a baby. Nothing made him comfortable. I was NOT a nervous mom. My baby, I believe today, was sick. I don’t think this turned on for him later in childhood. I truly believe he was born with it. I wish I could have known! I feel horrible–I know it’s not my fault, but I just wish…
    Discovery—Finally, my sister and I had an arguement. I told her she was passive agressive and that she might should look at her marriage. Was she truly happy?
    She finally went to a millionth doctor (who did not accept insurance)–he diagnosed her. I diagnosed my son based off of her–my son’s doctor was still reluctact, but obliged me. Mind you, I had to tell him what test to run–no kidding. It is my passion to try and educate locally for now. I LOVE what you have done and feel so compelled to tell you! It is such a good feeling to help people navigate this–I hope I can help one person at the very least–but I am so happy to see others with this passion and knowledge. You are a light–and I just hope you know that what you are doing is just wonderful.
    I have found it is very hard to educate physicians around here. They believe what they already feel they know. My doctor told me my son would outgrow it. I had to provide him with current documentation otherwise. He was very adamant, and that whole conversation was very awkward.
    Again, Thank you for all you are doing!

  2. Melissa Booth on February 21st, 2012 11:21 pm

    My son also had all of these issues. Basically, he has over 20 food allergies in addition to Celiac. He can actually eat all of them without any sort of anaphylactic reaction but has suffered with stomach aches for years. When he was an infant I actually switched him to Nutramigen formula. He improved greatly and it is my understanding it is gluten free. Likely that is why he did so much better. He also went to rice cereal.The formula is very expensive but something anyone who has a baby with these issues should look into. He had the projectile type reflux and really was just miserable with gas and pain.

  3. Regina on November 3rd, 2012 11:17 pm

    In response to Samantha’s comment, all four of my babies were very colicky, but verrry fat (they soon got very thin and they are all small for their age now). I wondered if that ruled out gluten, but I guess it doesn’t. I’m so glad you mentioned it. I’m expecting my fifth baby and since I’ve been gluten free quite awhile now, it occurred to me that I might have a normal baby w/o colic and diarrhea. What would it be like??? Despite being gluten sensitive myself, I didn’t suspect it in my kids until recently when my 5 and 8 year old had gallbladder attacks and then I was convinced.

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