Our DD just turned 3, and in the last year we have all had two different intestinal parasites, multiple times. I'm pregnant, with my due date at the end of next week, and I have had to be treated for parasites five times during this pregnancy (and one additional time about a year ago before I got pregnant). Right now, even though I am very anti-antibiotics, I am staying on antibiotics through delivery, because I am very worried about the potential of the newborn getting infected during birth. I'm pretty sure that the source of the parasites is my toddler, who does not have the best hygiene (although I assume it is not atypical for a toddler). We haven't traveled anywhere exotic, and I'm pretty religious about handwashing and about kitchen hygiene, and the dog has been tested and treated twice, even though neither of these parasites are likely to be transmitted between humans and dogs (according to both the human parasite specialist and the vet).
I'm getting really frustrated, because in principal I am against the overuse of antibiotics, have bad reactions to them myself, and will only take them if absolutely necessary. But they are the only thing that gets rid of the parasites (I know there are a slew of natural remedies out there, but they don't work for us, and the side effects are intolerable). I feel like we are repeatedly all getting reinfected, but I can't figure out how exactly where my toddler is picking them up, and why. I was hoping someone here might have ideas?
My DD understands that she should always wash her hands after she touches the ground, or goes to the bathroom, or touches her bottom, and that she definitely should not put her hands in her mouth after these things. But she's not consistent at implementation, and because she does not like to wash her hands, she will lie about whether she has done something unsanitary, to try to get out of handwashing. We try to monitor this as well as we possibly can, but I can't see every time that she scratches her bottom (for example), and when she is out with my MIL (who is not rigorous about handwashing, and who is of the philosophy that all germs are good for the immune system), I can't control how often she washes her hands. But I assume that most toddlers have these hygiene issues, and I don't hear about every other toddler sickening their whole family with intestinal parasites repeatedly, so I'm not sure how much I should be trying to get my toddler to act like an adult when it comes to hygeine?
I'm wondering if my DD just continues to have parasites that weren't effectively killed off by the treatments she has had over the last year, and so in this way keeps reinfecting me (but it is hard to get an accurate test result for a toddler), or if she is repeatedly getting reinfected herself by doing something that she shouldn't. I really don't want to treat her with antibiotics unnecessarily. But I really can't take any more of this (I've been very sick basically this whole pregnancy, and I am super worried about the newborn getting infected with this, which can be much more serious.)
I guess I'm hoping someone else here might have had some of these problems with their toddler and might have ideas? I could try to talk the doctor into treating my DD again, but 1) I don't like giving her antibiotics; 2) it might not work anyway if the parasite is resistant; and 3) I have no way of being certain that she is actually currently infected. She has minor symptoms, but she doesn't get the really extreme symptoms that I get when I am sick, so I can't be certain either way. But I'm afraid that if she is still infected, that she can get the newborn sick. Since I have gotten sick repeatedly with two different parasites during this pregnancy (despite the fact that especially during pregnancy I am super careful with handwashing and with what I eat), I am worried that it will be inevitable that the new baby will get sick.
My doctor doesn't seem concerned, but he also has no ideas about how or why I keep getting sick repeatedly - he just says that as long I wash my hands after changing diapers (our daughter is no longer in diapers) that there is no risk, but this is clearly not true, as I always wash my hands vigilantly and this didn't stop me getting sick in the first place. Again, because I don't understand why I keep getting sick, I don't know how on earth to protect the new baby. (I have also scrubbed the entire apartment repeatedly with vinegar, alcohol, etc, but that doesn't seem to have impeded my getting sick again at all.)
I know this may not be the best place to find experts on this kind of thing, but I was just hoping that some of you out there with toddlers might have had to battle with this kind of thing and might have some ideas?
Thanks for taking the time to read my ridiculously long post!
DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
EDD for number 2 on 2/28/2014
Are you talking about worms? I think that would require a different protocol. Have you tried diatomaceous earth or clay?
My guess is that your overuse of antibiotics has suppressed your immune system so badly that it's useless against the infestation.
Thanks for your replies, MeepyCat and blessedwithboys. The two parasites are giardia lamblia (protozoa) and entamoeba histolytica (amoeba). There are a list of specific antibiotic agents that have been established as reasonably effective in scientific trials to treat these particular parasites - the only one considered safe during pregnancy is Flagyl.
I appreciate the recommendation, blessedwithboys, but I did some reading about diatomaceous earth a while back and ended up deciding that I am just not comfortable taking it during pregnancy. I also spent some time looking for any research literature on the efficacy of any alternative treatments for either of these parasites, but unfortunately could not find any evidence of any natural remedies that had been shown to be effective for things that I would be comfortable taking while pregnant.
I am in general very anti-antibiotics, but in this case I do not feel that I have a choice. When I had a parasitic infection when I was not pregnant, I tried every natural anti-parasite remedy I could find that didn't seem dangerous, and none of them helped at all, and most of them made me very sick; the correct antibiotic drug (I had to try a few), on the other hand, did cure me of the parasitic infection. I know that more natural remedies seem to work for some people who have had trouble with parasites (maybe it depends on which parasite they have?), but they did not work for me, and I am pretty conservative about trying them while pregnant. I am on heavy-duty probiotics, but that doesn't help with the symptoms from the parasite - rather I am taking them to counteract the effects of the antibiotic itself.
Leaving the symptoms untreated isn't an option either, as I went the first four months of my pregnancy with no treatment (to be extra safe and conservative) and I ended up anemic, with unbalanced electrolytes, and losing weight, on top of feeling really crummy, despite very careful eating and lots of probiotics. I ended up taking the antibiotics because I felt better on them, and because I felt that the risk to the baby and my own health from the antibiotics at that point was less than the risk of complications and malnourishment from the parasite. The e. histolytica in particular is actually what causes amoebic dysentery in poorer countries and is the cause of a lot of deaths in these areas, especially among young children and pregnant women (although this is not supposed to be an issue if it is treated promptly and the person is well-nourished and otherwise healthy). The parasite specialist was starting to recommend going in for a c-section, saying that this is what they would recommend in the days before Flagyl was considered safe during pregnancy, but I felt that antibiotics were a far better option than that, and didn't want the parasite specialist talking the backup OB for my midwife into this mindset.
The Flagyl does seem to work, at least while I am taking it, as it significantly improves the symptoms within a few days, and the symptoms stay away as long as I am on it, and sometimes for several weeks afterwards. In terms of my immune system, I have had no other illnesses while pregnant (no cold or flu, despite DD and DH getting sick), so I don't seem to be generally prone to getting sick with other things. I'm wondering if the antibiotic is actually effective, but if my DD is just repeatedly reinfecting me, since the last time I was on the antibiotic, it took a month afterwards before I got sick again, and this time a different parasite showed up in the tests, one that my DD gave us all last spring. But it is theoretically possible that the antibiotic is just effective to improve symptoms for a while but not enough to kill the parasite off completely, and that is why I have gotten sick again after some time has passed. There is no way to know for sure...
Anyway, thanks again for reading my way-too-long posts!
DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
EDD for number 2 on 2/28/2014
I would personally be concerned about flagyl but that's because of the dogs groups I'm part of, many breeders have stopped using it on their dogs because they've seen major adverse reactions in Aussies, so it may be breed specific as many drugs are, but it may also be dogs in general. I agree you've killed of the healthy bacteria and your guts just don't stand a fighting change against anything entering in at this point. The probiotics that you are taking - have you considered that the particular brand isn't working for you (ie did you have someone like a naturopath test you for the right one)? Of the umpteen varieties out there I know my LO can only take one brand, so perhaps that might be a start. Giardia lives in the environment and is hardy - can live through a round of flagyl no problem. My dogs have had it as pups - BUT in reality the only time they've had it was while on antibiotics for pneumonia and kennel cough to immune system was already down. They've never had it while healthy, so I'd venture a guess that a healthy gut is far less likely to allow these bacteria to take residency - we've not changed our lifestyle any so the environmental exposure is still there. I have had good luck keeping them on coconut oil and using olive leaf extract for any questionable bowel activity...but that's mainly a preventative measure for a healthy gut. You can supplement your own diets with coconut oil to feed the good gut bacteria and give them a better chance to fight off the bad stuff. Definitely get the new baby on an infant probiotic asap after birth to get a good start on protection.
I'm not one for antibiotics either but did get roped into penicillin being GBS positive for DD's birth and 2 years later I'm STILL battling the effects and she's got GI issues as well, so prepare for a long road to gut recovery! Perhaps you could modify your diet and incorporate some of the GAPS protocols which tend to speed gut healing - avoid sugars, lots of fermented foods, liver (I know I gag at the thought so maybe even a liver supplement instead)...there's more I can't think of, I've toyed with doing a bit myself to move things along just haven't found the motivation since Ideally I'd want to incorporate DD as well to fix her issues. Anyways, good luck with it all.
My first thought was diatomaceous earth as well...
If you guys consume refined sugar at all, cut it out of your diets completely. Parasites love love love sugar, and you'll crave it when you have them, and you'll go through withdrawal for a week or 2 once you start eliminating it. I tend to want sweets after dinner so I find that if I make some sweet herbal tea & add a spoon full of honey it's enough sweet to get me by. Cinnamon apple spice by celestial seasonings is my fave lately.
Have you heard about Dr. Hulda Clarks work w/zappers and killing parasites? You can find them used on ebay, and you can use them on the dog and the babies too! http://www.huldaclarkzappers.com/?gclid=COf5tqfT7bwCFeZAMgodYxsAEw
There are several essential oils that are anit-parasitic that you can put on all of you, including the dog. I recommend doTerra oils. I'm not a distributor. I just use them & know how well they work and they're certified pure therapeutic grade which means you can ingest many of them as well as apply them topically.
On Guard-this blend contains clove and cinnamon which are both well known for their parasitic actions. Rub a couple drops on bottom of each foot and put 1 drop in water or in a capsule for kids and 2-3 drops for adults. Some people can handle a drop in a shot of water while others don't like the taste and prefer to put the oil blend into an empty vegetable capsule. This blend will also keep them from getting sick and fights fungal, bacterial and viral infections in addition to parasites. When parasites die off they release viruses and bacteria into our bodies. On Guard will help counteract this and reduce die off symptoms.
Lemon- This is excellent for supporting the body especially the liver while killing off the worms and parasites. You can rub it directly over the liver area on yourself and the kids. You can drink a couple drops in water daily to assist the body in flushing out all the toxins the parasites give off when dying. It is in the GX Assist as well. For kids, you can also rub it on their feet.
Oregano-it is the number one natural antibiotic and is great for killing off bacteria, candida, parasites and viruses. This is in the GX Assist and with kids who can't swallow capsules, rub it on the bottom of their feet. It is a hot oil so on the bottom of the feet is best for them. If rubbing anywhere else, make sure and dilute the oil with a little coconut oil.
Melaleuca-it kills many bacteria, fungi and viruses on contact. It is also in the GX Assist and can be rubbed on bottom of feet and diluted and rubbed over abdomen.
Bergamot, Basil and Roman Chamomile are all worm expellers- you can take in a shot of water a drop of each 1or 2 times a day or put in capsules. Also rubbing these on bottoms of kids feet and dilute a little and rub over abdomen. A great night time tea is to use 1 to 2 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil in warm water with raw honey since it is a worm expeller and is a great night tea as well.
Feel free to PM if you need more support on all this alternative stuff! Good luck mama!! & blessings on your new little one!
I am no expert but giardia occurs often in Australia and is related to contaminated drinking water. I had not heard of the other one but I looked it up. I think you should have your water supply checked and maybe even the earth from your yard. Do you live in a farming area? I do feel that you should be getting better advice and help from your doctor and from whoever supplies your water. You should buy or boil your water until you solve the problem. Also, ensure your child washes well after playing in the yard or nearby parks just in case. I hope you solve the problem soon and best wishes for your family and your new baby.