This baby couldn’t stop vomiting
I got a pretty anxious message from a mom-friend. She was calling about her first baby, a 5-month-old boy who was still nursing full-time. He had developed severe reflux after a stomach “bug” had made him sick for a few days. The sickness had cleared up, but the vomiting hung on like a new skill he’d picked up and she was really worried.
He was regularly vomiting up entire feedings, and had stopped gaining weight. The vomiting interfered with his sleep, and he was only sleeping in a swing, upright, and only for a few hours at a time. He was a mess, literally. Lots of pukey laundry and little sleep for mom or baby. The pediatrician had offered the only tool in his toolbox; he prescribed a powerful stomach acid suppressant (think Zantac and friends).
But the drug was making him worse.
I had a couple of different angles to check. One possibility in infant tummy troubles is mold poisoning, so I always ask about water damage in the environment and possible mold exposures at home or daycare. Another indication of this is that the vomit contains a lot of mucus and that the child tends to be stuffy or congested. In the case of this little boy, none of these checked out so we were back at reflux.
Reflux is not actually caused by “too much acid.” All the ads for antacids would make you think that “too much acid” is the problem, but we only tend believe that line of reasoning because the pain is caused by stomach acid getting where it doesn’t belong. It’s not actually true, but since when you neutralize that acid with a base, you feel better, we figure that’s why it worked… until next time. The next time might be a little worse, and so on, because the antacids actually exacerbate the root of the problem.
Ironically, the real culprit in acid reflux is inadequate acidity. Stomach acid is the very strong hydrochloric acid, but poor liver function and nutritional deficiencies can cause this critical digestive secretion to be diluted, too alkaline, or in short supply. The stomach recognizes that the available chemical digestion is inadequate for getting the food to the stage needed before passing it to the small intestine, and tries to compensate by increasing its mechanical action, churning more than it normally would. As this is an abnormal situation, the sphincter at the top of the stomach is not designed to be strong enough to withstand this extra pressure, so it leaks. This leads to reflux, heartburn, and even vomiting. In a baby, the immaturity of the system (and the fact that they are usually lying down) permits the dramatic result of persistent vomiting (though this is not a symptom every baby with reflux will experience), whereas for an adult, this is uncommon.
Measuring body chemistry isolated the problem. Many factors go into stomach acid production, but the root causes we can easily test and address are mineral availability and blood sugar levels. To discover the culprit, I used the body chemistry management methods of Dr. Reams. I had the mom measure her baby’s urine brix (sugar) and the pH of his urine and saliva. His sugar reading turned out to be extremely low and the urine pH was acidic, though the saliva was neutral. I also had her check her breastmilk Brix, and found that it was quite low, indicating that the sugars and minerals coming to him in his feedings were inadequate to provide enough energy for digestion. This information correlated exactly with the results for the tests she ran on the baby.
The test results made it easy to choose a plan of action. I recommended she start a protocol of dosing the baby with a natural sweetener before each feeding, and also giving him some homemade fresh lemonade with a sulphur-based lime water to bring his body pH (urine reading) up to neutral range. I also recommended some particular calciums and other minerals for the mother’s supplementation and taught her to rotate the sweeteners from day to day to avoid hyperreactivity to any particular sugar source.
Within two or three feedings, we were sure the routine was helping him digest. The vomiting subsided, and within a few days, stopped completely. However, if the protocol was not followed for a particular feeding, the vomiting, though not as severe as before, would recur at that time. As soon as the baby started solids, the mom found ways to sneak supplemental minerals into his diet, and today he’s a thriving three-year-old now with no digestive issues.
What started the whole thing, in my opinion? Proabably liver compromise from the DTaP and rotovirus shots he had been given at 3 months, which were the only vaccines he had received. The acute stomach illness came on about 1 1/2 months after the shot, which then led immediately to the reflux. Had his mineral status been better to start with, his body might have been able to take the hit, but in this case, it compromised his digestion. If it wasn’t triggered by the shot, then my guess would be that his mineral status was more severely out-of-whack than I would have expected given the lack of other symptoms.
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