Pediatric Health Issues: Tummy Troubles

Picture of Child Breathing Exercise

Sorry that it has been a few days, ok a couple weeks, since my last post.  It has been hectic around here but thankfully our schedule has gone back to somewhat normal so I can get back on track with the blog posts.

The last two posts we did were on Fevers and on Respiratory issues.  Check each of these posts out to get good information on things to do to help your child’s body handle either of these two issues.

In the next couple posts we’re going to cover another issue in pediatric healthcare that is very common, especially in the younger children: digestive issues.  There are many different problems that effect the digestive tracts of children, but we’re going to only cover a select few:

  1. Colic
  2. Ulcers
  3. Stomach “bug”
  4. Constipation

One very common condition that affects newborns and young infants is Colic.  Usually beginning and diagnosed between the 3rd and 6th week of life, Colic can last up to 6 months or longer if left untreated.  Medically, this condition is diagnosed by using the “Rule of 3’s”.  This is assuming your baby is well-fed and exhibits no other signs of illness, the Rule of 3’s says that your baby has episodes of crying and fussiness that:

  1. Began within the first 3 weeks of life
  2. Lasts up to or more than 3 hours a day
  3. Occurs at least 3 days a week.
  4. Continues for at least 3 weeks
  5. Stops at around 3 months

If your baby is nursing well and is healthy and exhibits these symptoms then your baby could be diagnosed with Colic.  There are several things for you to do to help comfort your baby if he/she is suffering.  Now, not every “trick” or remedy works for every baby so don’t get discouraged as you try different things to help them calm down.

Nutritional helps:

Aloe Vera Juice: One thing you have to do is reduce the inflammation in the stomach and help to heal the lining of the baby or toddler’s gut to help reduce the amount of pain and irritation.  Aloe is an excellent epithelial healer (which is why you use it on sunburns).  The cells lining your digestive tract are very similar to the cell structure of your skin so the sugars in the Aloe Juice work very well at speeding up the healing process in their stomachs.  One good brand that we’ve used is called “Lily of the Desert” and can be bought at most health stores.  Another is “George’s”, which is sold in small bottles like water bottles and is totally tasteless.  Normal doses for young children who are suffering is 1/2 teaspoon 2-3 times per day.  You can also add the aloe into their bottles if they are bottle fed.  If not, then feed it to your child with a dropper.

Picture of Aloe Vera Juice

Probiotics: We have found over the years that if a pregnant mom doesn’t take probiotics during her pregnancy and has any stress at all during her pregnancy, especially during delivery, it is common for the baby to have digestive issues later on.  Probiotics are the normal, healthy, helpful bacteria that are supposed to line the digestive tract and populate your stomach that help with normal digestive control and immune function.  Stress kills off normal bacteria, as do antibiotics (if a pregnant mom takes an antibiotic it will effect the flora of her baby), sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, and caffeine. During the birth process, the baby builds up a healthy bacteria supply by traveling through the vaginal tract of its mother.  Deficiency can occur if the mom has taken medication, is deficient herself, has had a lot of stress or bad diet, or if the baby is not delivered vaginally.  There are several different companies that make infant probiotics you can purchase at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Sunflower Shoppe.  We carry a probiotic made by Innate Choice that we have seen amazing results with.  If using this probiotic then the dose would be 1 capsule/day for the mom (good for any mom but this is specifically for a nursing mother) and 1/4 capsule directly for the infant or toddler.

Omega 3 Fats: One of the best anti-inflammatories for the body is omega 3 fats found in fish oil (different types) and some plant sources.  The most readily absorbable for humans is fish oil.  That is a lecture in and of itself, but suffice to say in order to use the fats you get out of plant sources like flax or borage oil, your body has to convert them into DHA and EPA.  You can never convert these oils fast enough or efficient enough to get all that you need in a day.  Fish Oil (salmon, sardine, anchovie, tuna, cod liver, etc) is already in the form of DHA and EPA so you don’t have to worry about the conversion.  We really like Cod Liver oil from Innate Choice because it has Vitamin A (small amount) and Vitamin D so that your child gets their daily allowance of these vitamins as well and doesn’t need to take any more.  If you are a nursing mother, then 1-2 teaspoons per day will help your body and will supply your nursing infant.  If not, then add 1/4 teaspoon 2 times per day into your baby’s bottle to help get them the fats they need to reduce swelling, support brain and nervous system tissue, heal correctly, develop eye function, and on and on and on!

Gripe Water: Probably one of the most well-known helps for colic.  Again, we haven’t seen miraculous changes with this product in the office, but I wanted to show you all your options and this is one of them.  Gripe water is made up of fennel seed, ginger, and grapefruit seed extracts in a water base to help ease nausea and irritation in the digestive tract.  It doesn’t taste good at all so your child won’t appreciate that part, but many mom’s swear by it’s effectiveness. You can get this at any health-food store and the dose per day is 1-3 teaspoons directly to your baby.

Treatment helps:

Warm washcloths: Moist heat is very calming and soothing and can help to reduce the muscle spasming and inflammation in your baby’s stomach.  Moist heat gets deeper into the skin as opposed to dry.  Just warm, be sure and not heat up the cloth too much and hold onto the top of the abdomen (or wear it is the most tense.)

Picture of Baby Tummy Massage

Tummy Massage: Done gently by the parent.  Start in the top right corner of your baby’s abdomen and putting very light pressure, massage in tiny circles around their stomach in a clockwise direction (in the direction of food traveling through their digestive tract).  When you reach an area of their stomach that they either fight you on, cry about, or really tighten, then stay on that spot for a few extra seconds or until they relax that area for you.

Chiropractic Adjustments: Haven’t had your baby adjusted yet?? It really helps to relax their body and aid in the function of their nervous system.  Neurologically if their system is out of balance they can produce too much acid which can be calmed down with a chiropractic adjustment.  We see infants in our office as early as birth so it’s never too early to start them out getting adjusted.  Also if they have rotation in their rib cage from delivery it can cause their diaphragm to become really tight and that can spasm onto their stomach and irritate it, also correctible.  Babies and children respond very quickly

Cold Laser Therapy: We use this therapy in our office and have seen dramatic results with breathing, swelling, digestive pain or irritation, joint and muscle pain and healing, wound healing, and a host of other issues.  It works off of a vibration to help stimulate the cells to heal faster.  Totally safe and you or your baby won’t even feel a thing as you get the treatment done.  It helps with soft tissue healing which can help assist in the recovery of your child’s digestive tract because of irritation that happens along the lining of the stomach due to the acid levels in their system.

Craniosacral Therapy: This is an amazing technique that involves “unwinding” the fascia or soft tissue that surrounds the organs and muscles. Sometimes due to physical trauma (like birth!) or emotional trauma, the soft tissue or fascia surrounding your baby’s delicate digestive system can become tight and bound, causing pain and irritation.  A therapist trained in craniosacral therapy can release this tension and allow the soft tissue to release and heal.

Wow, this turned out longer than I thought it would when I started! LOL.  I talk (write) too much, I know, but there’s so much to show you guys I guess I get carried away.  I’ll go over the other digestive issues in our list in the next posts so that I don’t make this a pediatric encyclopedia!!

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