When my second son was born, he cried. He cried all the time. Sometimes, he cried for up to eight hours straight. I was miserable, my baby was miserable — even my dog was miserable. Nothing I did would make him stop. I visited the pediatrician multiple times, I became a Google expert, and I cried as well. At the doctor’s office, I heard so many possibilities — he had colic, he had acid reflux, and my personal favorite — he just wasn’t a happy baby.
The Turning Point
After multiple months of researching, trying different ideas, and praying for an answer, I stumbled upon the idea that my son could have a food allergy. More specifically, my son suffered from a condition called milk soy protein intolerance syndrome — known as MSPI. This is a condition where a baby cannot tolerate the proteins of milk and soy. In plain English, my son would get sick if I ate foods that contained a drop of dairy or soy. I met with our pediatrician, showed her my son’s symptoms, and we both agreed that MSPI was the diagnosis. Many babies are born with this condition, and most babies grow out of the intolerance by age 2.
Symptoms of a Food Allergy
Unfortunately, food allergy tests are not conclusive for children until the child is approximately 2 years old. A diagnosis can only be given after multiple clues are present and it’s up to the parent to take the clues to the doctor.
At the time of the diagnosis, my son was nursed exclusively. He was 3 months old. Looking back, I now know that symptoms had shown up within a few weeks after my son was born. A few hours after my son would nurse, he would start the spells associated with a food allergy. He would screech and cry for long periods of time — hours. The crying would last until he collapsed into exhaustion. I could see the pain in my son’s eyes. He had a hard belly — like gas was continually trapped inside. His dirty diapers were something else.
Many people will tell you that if a dirty diaper is green, then it’s a food allergy. That’s not necessarily the case. Food additives can turn a poop green. My son pooped a slimy yellow-green mess that looked like mucus. Sometimes the diapers were tinged with blood.
Because of these symptoms, we knew that his colon was not tolerating certain foods.
Steps to Determining if it’s a Food Allergy
If you are out there searching for an answer for your nursing baby, consider keeping a food diary of everything you are eating. Pay attention to the foods you eat within a couple hours of nursing. Look for patterns in your diet to determine what foods are the triggers. If your baby starts screaming within a couple of hours of you eating, dig deeper into what you just ate to determine if you can find the culprit. Check out the top eight food allergens, and see if any of those are the likely causes. Take pictures of dirty diapers and share them with your doctor. Most importantly, if you see streaks of red in your child’s diaper, take the diaper to your pediatrician to be tested for blood.
If your Baby Does have a Food Allergy
First, know it’s not the end of the world because this condition is survivable and you can continue to nurse your child. You simply have to adjust your diet and remove all forms of the food allergy that you normally eat.
Although this task is not easy, multiple resources and support groups exist to help you get yourself and your baby through it. Try typing your baby’s condition into Facebook and you’ll find multiple groups of parents who are battling the same condition with their little ones. The groups do everything from helping you find safe brands of foods to eat and great recipes to just being a sounding board for venting. If you can’t maintain your diet, ask your medical professional for an infant formula that will work for your child.
You are not alone, and you do not have to go through the journey alone.
I am not a medical professional. I am a mom — a mom who trusted her gut instinct to find her child a diagnosis. If you are worried that your baby might have a food allergy, seek the appropriate advice from a medical professional.
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