Childhood constipation, allergies and tummy pain: A Case Study
I’d like to tell you a story about a friend of mine. She’s a lovely woman, around 38 years old with two absolutely gorgeous children – Jennah, 2yo and Adam, 11 months. She fell pregnancy easily with both children, had smooth uneventful pregnancies and births and both children had trouble with milk which was allergy tested and linked to milk protein. This was easily resolved by using alternative milks and reducing her lactose intake while she breastfed or mixed fed.
We hadn’t spoken in awhile (we’d had a huge year with selling our house, falling pregnant and shifting my clinic plus my husband moved jobs twice!) and she had also moved house and was settling into her new place and life with two children. She emailed me in great distress about her son’s health. Here’s a little of what she said:
“He is extremely under weight, he is 10mths old and only 6kg. Adam does not BF for long, he has been having a lot of difficulty with the formula causing extreme constipation. He does not sleep at night, waking up 4-6 times. He has a confirmed milk protein allergy however I am almost certain there is other things bothering him b/c he breaks out in rashes, he becomes quite red, and his eczema flares up.
I am very careful with my diet, I eat bland food, eliminate all dairy and hope for the best. I have an appointment in April to see an allergist. We are seeing a paediatrician as well and she has referred me to see a dietician. I am back and forth with the GP and paediatrician asking for advice and if there is anything I can do to help Adam. I am asking for any help Kate.”
It was upsetting for me too, I hate to see mums distressed and concerned about their children’s health. I replied straight away and said:
1.The number one thing to know is that your little one’s gut (his stomach and intestines) is inflamed and irritated by the milk protein allergy. This irritation and inflammation, from a Naturopathic perspective, needs to be relieved before healing of the gut lining can begin. We need to heal our gut lining when it gets inflamed because that is where we absorb our nutrition from and when its inflamed and irritated, digestion and absorption of food and nutrition does not occur properly – hence, poor weight gain. People will often experience diarrhoea, bloating, pain and cramping and fatigue as well. This is also the main reason:
- much of his food constipates him
- he has eczema
- breaks out in rashes sometimes (the gut can’t process the foods and the liver becomes overloaded and the skin is our largest organ of elimination so it takes on some of the job of removing the normal waste products we make… this results in rashes, pimples and eczema)
2. Be careful with weetbix. Sometimes the wheat and the bran can be irritating to the gut lining as it contains insoluble fibre as well as soluble, perhaps alternate with oats – which are full of soluble fibre and will help to bulk his stool and not irritate his gut.
3. All the vegetables you mentioned, protein and avocado are wonderful sources of his essential building blocks for growth – well done! Vegetables are an excellent source of soluble fibre and nutrition. Make sure they are cooked well as this will help him digest them more easily. I used soups, casseroles and slow cooked meals for Charlie.
4. Apples and pears are fantastic for constipation in adults and children, stew them for best results and give them to him warm as it helps digestion. To stew them, I just add a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of brown sugar to a saucepan and stir them until they’re nice and soft.
5. It is such a shame he can’t tolerate yoghurt! It would be a great food for him. I’m not keen on soy yoghurts – have you tried coconut yoghurt? When you say milk protein allergy that usually refers to casein so give the coconut yoghurt a try. Add the stewed fruit, soft berries or banana for him.
6. I think you should book in a consult. I can help relieve his symptoms by repairing his gut. There are safe supplements for little ones that work brilliantly to relieve irritated tummies and repair the gut lining so it can do its job properly. This in turn, relieves the pressure on the liver, bowels and skin which means no more eczema, constipation and sore tummy!
7. Probiotics are essential for rebuilding the community of gut bacteria in his system as these are the powerhouse of our digestion and responsible for breaking down our food, making vitamins and hormones and supporting our immune system. However, using probiotics without healing firstly the gut lining and reducing that inflammation will not really help.
8. From a Naturopathic perspective, once you remove the allergen, it’s just the beginning. From the western medical perspective once you remove the allergen everything’s fine… that sounds a little cynical but probably explains why you haven’t found them super helpful with giving advice to help put weight on him and get him back on track! I hope the dietitian helps but I’ve found their focus is too narrow. I hope your experience is different.
Shortly after, my friend booked an appointment and I gave her some infant friendly gut healing supplements along with the dietary advice. She noticed a difference within a week!
If you are interested in learning more about how to relieve constipation, eczema and tummy pain in babies, children (or yourself!) have a look at my 7 day gut healing challenge. I teach you how to improve your digestion and relieve common symptoms like bloating, constipation and wind. It’s tailored for busy women and comes with a 7 day meal plan and convenient shopping list. Learn more here.
Remember, you and your children deserve a healthy gut.
Image credit: iStock photos