A Detailed Account of Our Children’s Digestive Problems and What We Found to Help…

My first child, Quinton, was born in November of 2006. I was very pleased with my well-behaved baby that hardly cried…. until he was 1 week old. He started to get fussy and then I noticed stringy blood in his dirty diaper. Of course I was frantic and called the doctor. I was told that this can be normal for babies to have a little blood in their stools because sometimes they can get little cuts in their rectum called fissures. It was Friday and I was told that if he was still having a problem that I was concerned about, then I could call again on Monday. Well, the fussiness and bleeding only got worse. I was worried ALL weekend and took him in to the doctor on Monday. Again I was told not to worry about it and the fussiness was probably just from colic. So I went home and things only got worse. My baby started throwing up a lot. I was so worried the first time I saw him throw up and it shot out a foot or two. He started having problems nursing also. He acted hungry all the time and yet when I tried to nurse him he was just so frantic he would gulp, cry, and throw up. He had terrible gas and burps. Sometimes it seemed as if the air would get trapped inside of him and he would cry from not being able to get it out. I could tell that he was really starting to have stomach/digestive problems.

The doctor suggested that he might have acid reflux and after trying him on Zantac, and then Reglan, he finally prescribed Prevacid. It was very expensive but I didn’t care because I was desperate. But the Prevacid did very little and my baby continued to scream. The doctor finally admitted that he might have something more than just colic or acid reflux wrong with him but he didn’t know what. Quinton had numerous blood tests done that revealed nothing. The blood in the stools continued to get worse. He had very strange stools and a dirty diaper every little bit. Sometimes just watery and sometimes stringy green like cooked spinach, and most of the time they had mucus in them. There was even a couple of times that it looked like straight dark blood.

As a general rule he would not sleep more than 5-10 minutes and then wake up screaming in pain. One of the ways I could get him to fall asleep was to hold his body facing mine and let his little head tip all the way back. It looked terrible but it must have made the pain in his throat feel slightly better. Another way he would sleep for a few minutes was if I held him lying on my arm face down. I would put his head right below the crook of my arm and then I would push the palm of my hand into his stomach and press his back against my stomach The pressure on his tummy would give him a few minutes of relief. Laying him flat on his back was totally out of the picture so I tried putting him on his stomach with a wedge under him. But he wiggled so much that he wound up in a heap at the bottom of the cradle. So I finally gave up on using my beautiful new cradle that my sister and her family had so lovingly built for us. (I have since learned that you can buy slings that will hold baby in that inclined position and they won’t wind up in a heap at the bottom.) I tried the swing but that seemed to squish up his stomach too much. (I later read that a car seat or swing can make reflux worse because of the position it puts their stomach in.) I finally laid my baby on his stomach in his swing and that seemed to help some because it put him at an incline but didn’t squish his stomach. Yes, it looked terrible but I just did what I had to.

When I nursed him, I held him in the most upright position I could due to his reflux. But nursing was a nightmare for both of us. The doctor started getting a little concerned when Quinton wasn’t gaining weight like he should, so he told me to give him at least a bottle a day, even though I had an abundance of milk for him. When the formula didn’t set well he suggested trying soy formula. That made him even worse. By this time my baby was 5 weeks old and we were facing Christmas with dread.

A few days before Christmas the doctor suggested that Quinton could have an allergy to cow’s milk. He suggested that I try to cut dairy products out of my diet. I was told to avoid fresh dairy products but if it was processed or cooked then that wasn’t as bad. So as difficult as it looked I knew I needed to try. Considering that formula didn’t set well either it seemed better to keep nursing.

Christmas was terrible. On Christmas Eve we were together with my husband’s family at his grandparents and Quinton just wouldn’t stop crying. I felt so desperate! Of course the doctor’s office was closed but I had the hospital page him and he called me back. He said that I should quit the soy formula and go to Nutramigen. That is a formula that is made of proteins that are extensively broken down and therefore is very easy for the stomach to digest. The only problem was that all stores were closed. :( He also said I could just give him Pedialyte. I didn’t have any so he suggested I call the hospital and see if they had any. He then told me that if I was too worried about my baby I could always take him to the ER. I figured it was pointless to take him to the ER so I called the hospital and asked if they had Pedialyte or Nutramigen. They had the Pedialyte but not the Nutramigen. The hospital is about 30 minutes away so I decided to check with friends first. Although it was late I found a friend that had some Pedialyte and she had some gas relief drops too. I normally had plenty of gas drops and gripe water but had run out. (I truly spent hundreds of dollars on gas relief drops and gripe water.) We had to just “endure” the entire day of Christmas. The next day the doctor prescribed a barium enema and a couple other tests. So off to Wichita we took our poor little screaming baby. To have this barium enema done he had to have an empty stomach. He of course was hungry and did a lot of crying. I had to have my husband, Russ, hold him down for the test because I just couldn’t handle it emotionally. The test only revealed a very inflamed intestine. I don’t remember what other tests they did but nothing came out of them. The doctor finally had me take a daily stool sample from Quinton for a week to prove that it really was blood that I was seeing. I felt so frustrated because I saw blood all the time and didn’t want to endure another week of my miserable baby. But I did what he asked, and when I had “proved” it, I believe he was stumped. I had the samples dated and toward the end of the week, the blood was a little less so he told me to continue avoiding milk, give a bottle or two a day of Nutramigen and see what happened.

By then Quinton was 12 weeks old and it felt like I had had NO sleep since he was born and it seemed as if I had shed almost as many tears as my baby. If he slept for very long periods I was afraid to check on him for fear he had died.

After Christmas I started giving Quinton a couple bottles a day of the Nutramigen formula. I also tried my best to avoid milk products and he was still taking the Prevacid. It seemed at times he would improve a little and have a little better day but for the most part he was just plain miserable. Some of my family encouraged me to call a friend (Nanc) that had had a baby that suffered from a milk intolerance. I was somewhat reluctant to call her because I felt that I was trying to avoid milk and surely that wasn’t what was wrong with my baby. But… how wrong I was!!! When I called Nanc and she started talking about MSPI (Milk/Soy Protein Intolerance), I could feel this sense of relief come over me. I thought, “Now here was someone that knew what they were talking about!!” My doctor had never even mentioned such a term. When Nanc told me that when a baby has MSPI they are EXTREMELY sensitive to any and all types of cow’s or soy milk products, even just small amounts, I realized why my “try to avoid milk” wasn’t working. I didn’t know that I needed to avoid ALL milk products all the time whether they were cooked or not. I decided right then and there that I was DONE nursing and I was going to give my baby only Nutramigen. Within 24 hours of quitting nursing, my baby laid on the floor and cooed for 2 hours. I just stood and looked at him and let the tears of joy flow. I just couldn’t believe it! That night I laid him down to sleep and went to sleep myself. I woke up with a start at 7am and couldn’t believe that my baby was still sleeping. I was so scared to even check on him because I feared he had might have died in the night. But all was well!!

I called the doctor to tell him the good news and I could tell he was very relieved. He said he was at the end of knowing what to do and he had planned on making a call to the Gastroenterologist in Wichita that very day. At some later point when at the doctor’s office I looked over Quinton’s chart while the doctor was out for a minute and I was shocked to find that he had labeled Quinton as “failure to thrive”.:( (Later I found out that this means that he was under the 5% mark with his weight on the growth chart.)

In the information that Nanc gave me I read that most babies outgrow this problem by one year of age but for some it can take up to the time they are three. Quinton continued to drink the Nutramigen and take the Prevacid. His problems were so much less!!! I had him eat only canned baby food instead of table food until he was a year old. I was afraid of letting him eat table food because so much of it has dairy products in it. But at a year he was not yet over his stomach problems. He had an extremely touchy stomach that couldn’t handle a lot of different foods.

Even though I had made copies of all the MSPI information that Nanc had sent me and gave it to the doctor and begged him to read it, (not so much for my sake but for other mother’s and baby’s sakes) I don’t think he did, because when Quinton turned a year old I asked the doctor what he suggested that I give him instead of Nutramigen and he suggested SOY milk. :( At this point I decided that I was “on my own”. I didn’t even try the soy milk but rather tried rice milk. Quinton seemed ok with it, and yet there were many times that I questioned “What is causing him to cry tonight?” When we went other places to eat, and if people weren’t aware of Quinton’s intolerance, it was hard because sometimes there was hardly anything he could eat. Rather than make a “scene” I would just let him have stuff that I thought might bother him and figured we’d just have to pay the consequences later. :(

One of the really scary things that I learned about MSPI is that if your first child has it, then most likely all your children will and it can possibly be worse with each one. :( So, the idea of having another baby didn’t really enthuse me a lot. But Russ and I had often talked of how it would nice to have our children spaced about 2 years apart so we decided we’d just have to prepare ourselves and hope for the best. When I became pregnant again I got really worried and scared and even cried at times at the thought of “Will I be able to handle another screaming baby?”, but I tried to console myself that “This time will be different because I will know more”.

Jackson was born in December (just a little over 2 years after Quinton :) ). I had decided to try to avoid all milk products for awhile before he was born and of course all the while I nursed him. I knew that it would really be difficult over the holidays but it was important to me to at least try to nurse him as long as possible. I was disappointed when at about a week old he started showing signs of acid reflux. Quinton was still taking Prevacid and we were away from home so I called the doctor to see how much Prevacid I could give to Jackson. I was told only a fourth of a 15 mg pill. I started that right away but it hardly helped. I soon realized just how hard it really was to avoid all milk products. Even though while with my family over Christmas they tried hard to make foods that were dairy free, I wound up in tears because there were just so many things I couldn’t eat and I was hungry and stressed out. :( After we came home I was thankful that some of my friends brought me food but not all of them were aware of the fact that I was avoiding milk products so I didn’t say anything and thought I would just let Quinton and Russ eat those foods. But alas my hungriness and tiredness overtook, and at times I ate some of it. I tried hard to avoid milk products but by 8 weeks I gave up. Jackson was very miserable by then and so was I. At one point Russ said he thought Jackson cried even more than Quinton had. I didn’t think so but he did seem to be more sensitive to milk products than Quinton was.

Although I gave Jackson Nutramigen to drink and didn’t  let him have milk products he still had reflux problems. From what I had read about Prevacid there really wasn’t a chance of overdose right away so I kept increasing the amount I gave him in hopes of it helping. By the time he was 8 months old I was giving him 30mg a day. That amount was not prescribed by the doctor and was a pretty high dose for a baby. But even with him taking that amount he was still having pain and cried a lot at night.

By this point Quinton was close to three and basically the only liquid he drank was water and he was taking 15mg of Prevacid a day. As long as I remembered to give him his daily pill he did fairly well but he still didn’t tolerate milk too well and he was very sensitive to things like summer sausage and hot dogs. I finally decided that I should take my boys to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist to see if she could tell me what was causing their stomachs to produce so much acid. I was told that by the looks of things my children were healthy enough and that I didn’t need to worry about them. She said it was ok to give 30mg a day of Prevacid to my baby but not for more than several months, but was somewhat concerned though that Quinton was still having such acid reflux at his age. So she suggested that if he was still having problems by the time he turned three that she would like to look down his throat with an endoscope. She recommend that I read a book titled “Colic Solved” written by Dr. Bryan Vartabedian. He also is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. (I purchased this book and I was very impressed with it.)

I did not want to have the endoscopy done but at the same time I wanted to know what was causing my children to have such problems. I feared that we would put out a lot of money for the test and in the end not really see much results from of it. So, I decided that the first thing I needed to do was take him off of the Prevacid to see how bad his problems really were. Well, after he was off of his medicine for several days he started waking up at night very restless. Soon he started waking fully up and crying.

When at a little over a week without the medicine he cried for 2 hours in pain I decided that we were doomed for the endoscope. I was ready to start him back on the Prevacid the next day when a friend of ours had a suggestion for me to try. He suggested giving him alkaline water. Considering that Russell’s parents had a machine that produced this kind of water I figured it would be worth a try before I put him back on his Prevacid. The next day we got a gallon of alkaline water and I had Quinton drink that water instead of our water. I was VERY surprised when I woke up the next morning to find that Quinton was still peacefully sleeping in his own bed. We decided to continue getting this water and see what happened. I was very pleased to find that this alkaline water counteracted the acidity of his stomach. He has never taken Prevacid since!

Read the page titled “Alkaline/Kangen Water”  to learn more. 

After awhile I slowly started letting Quinton have dairy products to see what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised that he seemed to tolerate them quite well. I didn’t let him have big quantities or drink straight milk though. Although I did notice that if there were days that he didn’t drink much water he tended to wake up more at night, and sometimes he even complained that some things made his “burps hurt”. I was really glad that the alkaline water helped him so much and I felt too that maybe he was outgrowing his problem some. At the same time though I still felt confused as to “what” was causing his stomach to produce too much acid. But I was just glad that he was no longer taking expensive medicine and we had found something that helped.

When I saw how this helped Quinton I decided to start making Jackson’s bottles with the alkaline water also. At the same time I started decreasing his Prevacid. By the time he was a year old he also was medication free and sleeping fairly well at night. But with his Nutramigen being so expensive I wanted to try something else. I was afraid to just start him on cow’s milk so I tried rice milk. I tried mixing it half with water because I felt that he needed the water too. But then I was worried that he wasn’t getting enough milk. The rice milk didn’t set well and I found out that it is actually acidic. Although I figured he wouldn’t tolerate the protein in soy milk I decided to try unsweetened soy milk because it’s alkaline. That seemed a little better for the reflux but it gave him constipation. Next I tried goat’s milk which is also alkaline. That seemed the best of all three. Even though I mixed it with water he wasn’t getting enough water to counteract the acidity of his stomach. So he continued to have some problems but not badly enough to make me want to put him back on Prevacid. After he’d been drinking the goat’s milk for a couple of months he got sick with a fever for over a week and hardly drank anything. Our goat’s milk got old and I decided not to buy anymore until he was well because I didn’t want to waste it due to it being so expensive. During that time I just put water in his bottles and he seemed fine with that. Suddenly he got over his fever and started sleeping all through the night. He had hardly ever done that so I was surprised. I began to wonder if maybe he didn’t tolerate that goat’s milk as well as I thought he did. So after he had slept through the night for 6 nights in a row, which had never happened before, I got some more goat’s milk. About an hour after he drank a bottle full he started crying and cried for 2 hours. Well, I felt very frustrated and didn’t know what to do. But all I could do was give him the alkaline water and hope and pray that someday I would find the root of the problem. It concerned me that my 18 month old and my 3 year old drank no milk but I just didn’t know what to do about it. The doctor suggested giving them a calcium supplement but I could never find a children’s calcium supplement.

Last Fall when my boys were almost two and four, I had a friend suggest that I call a company called Core Health Products (owned by Shan Stratton) and get their advice on what to do for my boys. Shan is a very knowledgeable nutritionist who sells different kinds of supplements,  is internationally known for his health education, and is a nutritional consultant for many professional athletes. I couldn’t imagine what kind of help he had to offer and was skeptical. But decided it wouldn’t hurt to call.  I was so surprised that when I called, Shan himslef answered the phone!

Within minutes of talking to him tears came to my eyes because I felt as if maybe my prayers were heard and my “answer” had come. I will try my best to repeat what I learned from him… The reason that my children had so many digestive problems is that they had an enzyme and probiotic deficiency. The pancreas is what makes digestive enzymes and puts them in our stomach to break down the food we eat. All foods have enzymes in them but anytime a food is cooked or processed it kills the enzymes. With our diets today of mostly cooked and processed foods it’s hard for our pancreas to be able to produce enough enzymes. Without enough enzymes in the stomach to break down the food the only thing our stomach knows to do is produce more acid to try to break it down. Too much acid in the stomach will cause heart burn, acid reflux, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

If a parent has a pancreas that isn’t producing enough enzymes then it is possible that their children can be born with a pancreas that doesn’t work well either. If the mother will take a supplement of enzymes and probiotics while pregnant she will pass these on to her baby and have a baby with a healthy digestive system.

Probiotics are the good, live bacteria that live in our body. One of the things they do is coat and protect our entire digestive tract (and also the ears and nose). When the stomach produces too much acid then it is forced up the esophagus and down the intestines and will kill probiotics. (Antibiotics also kill probiotics.)  When the probiotics are depleted then the acid is traveling right up next to the , throat, esophagus and intestines with no protection. This can cause them to get raw, inflamed, and even bleed sometimes. 

So, you can see why I was overwhelmed with tears while listening to Shan. It all sounded so simple. Not only that, I was so impressed when he told me that he owns Core Health Products company and sells a probiotic/enzyme supplement called “Digestive Health”. I instantly ordered some for my boys and myself. (You can  find their site by googling Core Health Products or Shan Stratton. I want to keep my site “informational only” so no links to sites that sell something.)

Russ and I had been talking about having more children but it had just looked too overwhelming and scary. But after talking with Shan I began to feel a bit of hope!

In the past four years I had had very few full night’s rest. It seemed as if I had spent a lot more time in the recliner and pacing floors than in my own bed. I had spent many a guilty night wandering what it was that I had let my child have this time that was causing him to cry in pain.

Within only three days of my boys taking the Digestive Health pills they started sleeping all night long. At first they woke up around every 3rd night, then once a week, then once every other week, until it got to the point where they hardly ever woke up at night. After taking these for a couple of months I started slowly giving them milk products. It is hard for me to believe this but… today my boys can eat any food they want to! They love to drink milk and eat ice cream, and I truly cannot remember the last time they woke up crying from stomach pain!

As you can imagine, all of our lives started to change. All of us were getting more sleep and I had a new hope for the future. My fears of another screaming baby started to go away and I decided that I DID want another baby!

We have been totally amazed at how different our little girl has been than her brothers. It’s a complete night and day difference! Read “Our Healthy 3rd Child

So many people say “But I’ve tried probiotics and/or enzymes and they didn’t seem to help much”. Well, there are many kinds to choose from. Read “How to choose the right enzyme/probiotic supplement” Or to order the “Digestive Health” that we use, go to their website.  www.corehealthproducts.com

Also go to the page titled Lorraine’s Story to read about  a story of what is happening to a mom’s child that was started with Digestive Health pills and is now trying alkaline water along with the pills.

I can not promise that you or your child will find the relief that we did, but I do believe that anyone of any age with any kind of digestive problems will greatly benefit from probiotics and enzymes. In the last several months I have found is so interesting how many different symptoms there are and yet the cause is often the same. Some babies have diarrhea and some have constipation. Some throw up all day and some never throw up. Some have bloody stools, some don’t. Some cry a few hours a day and some cry all day. Some eat all the time because it soothes the pain and some don’t want to eat at all because it causes pain. Some children get hyper and uncontrollable from the pain while others get lethargic and complain of being sick. Some baby’s reflux gets so severe that they choke and temporarily stop breathing. And some get to the point where they are so unhealthy they have to have feeding tubes put in.  The list could go on and on. But the underlying cause in many cases (not all though, I am sure) is simply the inability to properly break down what is eaten.

Proteins are one of the hardest things for the digestive system to break down.  This is why reflux/protein intolerant babies do better with elemental formulas such as Nutramigen, that have the proteins extensively broken down in them. But a nursing mother can do the same with her milk. By taking a probioitc/enzyme supplement it will make the proteins in her milk be extensively broken down just like the formula, only better.  If the baby is no longer nursing then the baby can be given the supplement and it will break down whatever is eaten or drank.

I feel that one of the reasons my children were helped so much and so quickly with the digestive health is because we were already drinking alkaline water. Recently while on a camping trip, our cabin didn’t have running water and so we could not take along our alkaline water machine. My children were of course still taking the Digestive Health but I was surprised at how we had some diarrhea and acid reflux.  So it became clear to me that the water is still something that my children are dependent on. 

The Digestive Health pills are what makes the body be able to break down food so therefore there isn’t a need for the stomach to make excess acid. But unless we eat a diet of mostly alkaline food and never drink acidic drinks like pop or Gatorade then we will still be fighting some excess acid. Also stress adds more acid to the body than acidic food does. By drinking alkaline water it helps counteract this acidity. So for someone that takes the Digestive Health but doesn’t drink alkaline water, they will be able to break down their food better but may still have to deal with some acidity due to diet and stress.

But many people who don’t drink alkaline water have told me that the Digestive Health has helped them and/or their children tremendously.

To learn how many pills to give to your child or for yourself to take, Read “Pill Dosage“. On this page there are also tips on how to get your child to take these pills.

If you plan to take probiotics and enzymes, PLEASE read “Side Effects of Probiotics and Enzymes before starting them

 

2 thoughts on “A Detailed Account of Our Children’s Digestive Problems and What We Found to Help…

  1. I exclusively BF my 5.5 mo daughter. She has reflux as did my other two children.. my firstborn was the worst, the 2nd managable and our third is really struggling. I know to stay away from all and any milk products, but have “slip ups” as you’ve mentioned. I think she is ok w/ soy. Wondering if you think the digestive health tabs could benefit her if I took them? Cannot afford an alkaline water machine at this time 😦 Thx for helping others with this terrible thing…

    Michelle
    mjdnn@hotmail.com

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