As a parent I can empathize with anyone who is dealing with a crying baby. There is just something about that cry that makes you want do do whatever it take to make it stop. This of coarse, is by design so you the parent will give your baby what they want or need.
But what if, despite everything you did, your child constantly cried? You try to comfort them, feed them, burp them, but despite all of your effort, they continued to cry. And the worst part about it, you know that they are in pain and you feel helpless.
This is a very common problem with children suffering from colic or acid reflux. Because of the amount of discomfort the baby is experiencing they constantly cry. Parents often are forced to do whatever they can to comfort the baby which often becomes an exhausting task.
It is not long before parents become sleep deprived and their own stress levels begin to rise. I know of some cases where parents would have friends or family come over to their homes just so they could get a couple hours of sleep!
Trips to the pediatrician become more routine in an effort to try to figure out what can be done to help their children and often medication is prescribed. The most common medication is some sort of antacid.
Acid Is NOT The Problem!
In reality your child does not have an acid problem. What are they possibly eating that would make their stomachs produce that much acid? Most likely they are on a strictly breast milk or formula based diet which is very mild in acidity. Instead, your child has a bacterial problem!
It usually all starts in the hospital. If a mother is treated for any bacterial infection (usually strep B) then the use of the antibiotics wipes out all the “bad” and “good” bacteria that is to be transferred to the baby. See, a baby relies on the mother to pass all of her good bacteria (Lacto Bifidus Bifida) to create the proper flora in the baby’s gut.
A baby’s gut is sterile in utero and during the decent down the birthing canal is when this transfer takes place. This is a good time to point out that if your child was delivered by cesarean they DID NOT have this natural transfer and is more likely prone to acid reflux and colic problems.
If you baby did not receive the proper flora as a result of antibiotic use in the hospital or cesarean delivery, their gut will be more susceptible to “bad” bacteria. This “bad” bacteria will occupy much of the stomach lining and intestine and prevent proper digestion of food (milk). This undigested food begins to ferment and is what produces the acid reflux and gas the baby experiences.
Another major contributor to the overgrowth of “bad” bacteria is the use of infant formula. Babies weren’t designed to develop from cow’s milk or soy milk. Many of the natural antibodies and other immune builders found in breast milk cannot be replicated in a commercial product. This is why infants who are fed formula often are more susceptible to these issues. In fact, research shows that if a baby drinks just one bottle of formula it takes up to two weeks for the intestinal fora to return to normal.
The colostrum found in the early breast milk contains lots of Secretary IgA which is what coats the digestive tract and provides a protective barrier. It is this same barrier, which is often compromised or undeveloped, that is responsible for the food allergies and intolerance that so many children experience. The proteins from the cow’s milk and soy milk get through the protective mucosal barrier and cause a systemic reaction which often manifest in Eczema.
Antacids Aren’t The Answer
Despite that these medications aren’t very safe and has zero testing when it comes to children, your baby is not producing too much acid. It is the undigested food that is producing the acid! In fact, your baby has a too little acid problem and by giving your baby an antacid your are only perpetuating the very problem you are trying to fix.
Because your baby has an overgrowth of the this “bad” bacteria in their stomach, their own acid isn’t very effective in breaking down the food that they are eating. Acid production is a very natural thing and your stomach is the MOST acidic place in your body. This of coarse, is by design and is necessary for breaking up proteins into their usable amino acids and other macronutrients into bioavailable micronutrients.
An antacid will further suppress your baby’s stomach acid production. Sure, they may have some relief because the overall acid production is lower, but the cause of the problem was NEVER addressed. The fermenting food remains and because you further decreased the acid necessary to digest your baby’s food, more fermentation will occur and the symptoms will return. This vicious cycle repeats itself over and over and is why most children and adults find themselves on antacids indefinitely.
Fix The Bacteria, Fix The Problem
The great news is that your baby’s acid reflux and colic is completely fixable! This same solution is often what is required to address Eczema problems as well.
The very best thing you can do for your baby is introduce probiotics into their diet. If your baby is breast feeding, I encourage the mother to take large doses of these probiotics. The nutrition that a mother eats is passed to the baby and will be the best way of getting these “good” bacteria into their system. If your baby is on formula, add the probiotic to the the formula.
If your child is already eating solid foods just simply mix it up with some apple sauce. Solid foods, however, should not be introduced prior to 6 months of age. Your child’s mucosal lining is not developed yet and any food that you introduce has a very high probability of causing some degree of allergy or intolerance. Other foods to avoid is soy, gluten and peanuts because of their high susceptibility to allergic reactions and intolerance.
You must take at least 25-50 Billion cfu in order to make a difference. Most over the counter probiotics will not be potent enough and I highly encourage you to seek the help of a health care provider. Chiropractors, naturalpaths, and acupuncturists will most likely have a good probiotic in their office. Unfortunately, most pediatric offices will not but you are welcome to try.
Simply adding a probiotic will greatly improve your child’s digestion and may be all required to get rid of the acid reflux or colic. In those cases that more is required to address your baby’s condition I encourage you to work with a qualified healthcare professional. In our office we evaluate your child’s spine to ensure that no restrictions were contributing to their inability to digest their food, as well as, work with the parent to address any dietary issues that may be also contributing to the underlying cause.
Too often, the wrong formula is being used or a breast feeding mother could be contributing to the problem with their own diet. If a child is already eating solid foods, a food intolerance test (ALCAT), IgG or IgA test should be preformed to see if your child is reacting to any of the foods that they are eating.
Acid reflux and colic affect so many children, resulting in discomfort for both the children and parent. Safe and natural methods of treatment work wonderfully and are often more effective because the “true” causes are addressed. If your child is currently suffering with these conditions introduce a good probiotic and seek the help of a qualified healthcare professional.