Do You Have A Baby With Colic Or GERD? Your Baby May Be Having Immune Related Reactions To Food!
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.
I wish you and your infant the best that life has to offer!
Shelly Stuart, R.N., B.Sc.N.