This is a little fella I have been working with over the last few weeks & this joyous photo means EVERYTHING to me.
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Adam was the baby who reacted to every single thing he consumed – his mum Susannah’s breast milk, every infant milk formula & every food mum tried to feed him. Not only did the milk formula make him wired & unable to sleep, but Adam also stopped smiling & lost eye contact which absolutely terrified his parents. It was a TOTAL nightmare & by 9 months they were distraught as he was not growing either.
When we first spoke, I suggested he should go and see an amazing paediatric gastroenterology team led by Dr Neil Shah at Great Ormond Street Hospital who really understands non-IgE complex allergies and thankfully she was already due to see him a couple of days later for the first time. So, I was pretty sure things were about to change for the better for him. Dr Shah put him on a mast cell stabilising medication which meant that Adam could begin to tolerate his mum’s breast milk – a huge leap forward for them both. Even though Susannah is on a pretty restricted diet (which I have helped her with) he is now so much happier, and you can see from this photo the smiling and eye contact is back! Hurrah!
I also ran a stool test to get a better understanding of his gut microbiome and gut function as these are not on offer from either private or NHS gastroenterologists yet. The stool test is incredibly thorough and was able to give us a much better understanding of his ability to digest and assimilate foods, check for inflammation and also look in-depth at his balance of gut microbes to help me be able to assess which foods he can tolerate and which probiotics might help.
When Adam’s results came back from the lab we found that his gut microbiome was quite out of sync, with not enough of the right beneficial bacteria in his intestines which are so important for developing oral and gut tolerance to food. We also found that he had quite a significant overgrowth of a bacteria called Hafnia Alvei which is known to produce histamine. An excess of histamine in the gut can lead to a number of symptoms associated with allergy such as gut pain, skin rashes, sneezing and wheezing. We are slowly making little strides forward with this, using polyphenol-rich foods which can help to build a healthy microbiome and we are trialling different probiotic strains – helping to bring down the inflammatory & histaminic bacteria in both the mum & baby’s gut and building in the anti-inflammatory beneficial microbes.
Then the next step was to wean him onto solids, which he really struggled with to begin with as he was really quite scared – it has been painfully slow in terms of introductions and I have really had to think out of the box for this one. He has done very well on very low histamine foods such as pear, blueberries and millet and you can see from this photo, quite a bit goes over him and his high chair. He is now LOVING his food and he is putting on weight really nicely. We have a long way to go, but at least his parents have got their happy little boy back and he is getting nourished one small step at a time.
So my message to worried parents with babies who are either refusing to wean onto solid foods or are reacting to a wide range of foods are:
- Don’t hesitate to seek out advice from a gastroenterology team who understand complex allergies such as eosinophilic conditions, mast cell activation and histamine intolerance.
- If you are breastfeeding you may need to adapt your diet and work on building a healthy balance of gut microbes in your gut.
- Consider probiotics for the baby which contain strains known to reduce inflammation associated with allergies such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacteria animalis subsp. lactis.
- Consider supplementing with Vitamin D and omega 3 which help to reduce inflammation and also help to nourish and develop a healthy gut microbiome.
- Work at your babies pace and always take one tiny step at a time. It takes a slow and low approach when a baby has such a sensitive tummy. It may all seem painfully slow, but with patience, over time most children do gain tolerance to a wide range of foods and they often grow up to love their food.
If you are struggling with weaning your little one, then I hope this story gives you a little bit of hope that they can turn things round! Thank you to Susannah for letting me share his story (with names changed).