I am hoping you can help me with a somewhat confusing situation. I have two children - one who just turned 2 and the other who is 3 months old. For the last two years, give or take a few months, we have been consumed with figuring out what has been causing stomach troubles in our 2 year old. It started off as gas, then when he was about 4 months old, he would have a BM every week or so. The older he got, the more difficult it became for him to pass stools. There would be times we would both sit on the floor crying because he was in so much pain. Sometimes suppositories worked, sometimes they didn't. Sometimes karo syrup worked, sometimes it didn't. Up until he was about 6 months old, his diet was 90% breast milk, 10% formula (cow's milk then eventually soy). After realizing that our pediatrician wasn't helpful at all we decided to assign a naturopathic doctor as his primary care doctor. She advised us to put him on a dairy-free diet, which we did (at this point he was off breast milk and formula and was drinking coconut milk). After several months, we realized that a dairy-intolerance was not the culprit as his bm's were still very irregular and he was always constipated. (He drinks a ton of fluid throughout the day.) So, we stopped the dairy-free diet, kept him on coconut milk (he won't drink cow's milk or eat cheese or anything like that....) and used Miralax, as needed. (He has also been given high quality cod liver oil and probiotics every night.) Right around this time his doctor ran a stool sample (I think it was the CDSA 2.0) which showed a PH imbalance and dysbiosis. She recommended using Grapefruit seed extract. Today, things seem to be working themselves out for him. I wouldn't say that he's regular but he is not dealing with constipation or anything like that anymore.
Now, onto our 3 month old. Just like our 2 year old, his diet is almost all breast milk with the exception of maybe 4oz a day of formula while he is at daycare - I've not been able to pump enough of a supply to keep him exclusively breastfed. When he was a newborn he was constantly looking to eat so he was always fed on demand. It never seemed like he was satisfied so when he was ~4 weeks old, I tried giving him 2 oz of formula after I breast fed him. He seemed full and satisfied. We rarely gave him formula unless he seemed unsatisfied. He wasn't getting formula daily until about 3 weeks ago when he started at daycare. Anyway, his awful gas started BEFORE the formula was introduced so my guess is that the formula has nothing to do with it. The other trouble is that for the last 5 weeks or so, he has only had 3 bm's - all of which were helped along from using a suppository. If his diet was all breast milk (and he wasn't so gassy) I wouldn't be as concerned but he is also drinking formula.
I've been working with the same naturopath and she has suggested dairy avoidance for both of us along with a high quality probiotic. I haven't tried it just yet - and I'm wondering if dairy is even the issue.
My reason for writing today is to ask if you think that, given the history of both children, do you think that this could be a problem with my breast milk? Meaning - could I be producing too much foremilk and not enough hind milk? Could this have caused long-term effects in our 2 year old after we had stopped breast feeding (constipation, dysbiosis)? Could this be what is causing the awful gas in our 3 month old? (Is it the formula that is keeping him from having a BM more regularly?)
I look forward to your response. I have done so much research on my own but I really need the thoughts from someone who has more experience.
I’m glad things are working out better for your older child. You are right that clues from one should help us diagnose the other. The infrequency of stools in your older child is not a concern by itself but when you mention the pain, that’s certainly an indicator that something’s not right. It could have been that more foods besides or instead of dairy were the culprits. The cod liver oil and probiotics sound excellent. The dysbiosis is a rather vague finding but grapefruit seed extract is great for all kinds of things so it sounds like a good plan. Stick with plenty of high fiber foods.
Formula can be constipating but it’s a small portion of your youngster’s diet, and you said the gas came before the formula. Iron supplements can constipate but I assume you are not giving these. Again, having infrequent stools is rather common in babies and if they’re not painful to pass, or not associated with other problems, it should be no concern.
Usually a foremilk-hindmilk problem is associated with diarrhea, thinking that excessive lactose is consumed. No I don’t think your milk caused any long-term intestinal problem after weaning. I’m sure your milk is just right.
I would give the same advice as your naturopath has for your 3 month old – try 100% milk product avoidance, including whey, casein, cheese, yogurt, butter, etc. – for both you and baby. It only takes a little while and can tell you whether this is your answer or whether you should be looking elsewhere. It’s always possible that there is more than one food that’s the problem, and it’s always possible that food sensitivity is not the problem at all. I would encourage you strongly to try a more complete elimination diet if the symptoms were more serious, but at this point, I leave it up to you. If you do try even just a week of non-dairy, I would then go ahead and challenge with a very high-dairy couple of days – especially liquid milk for you and milk formula for baby. If things go south quickly, you’ll have your answer.
Either way, probiotics are a great recommendation as well. They may be enough to balance out the flora and rid the symptoms, if you wish to try just these first. If you think your baby is very uncomfortable with constipation, I don’t think the suppositories are bad.
Linda F. Palmer, DC
"The Baby Bond"