Maybe “cured” is a strong word. She still has eczema. She still has gastrointestinal tract issues. She has “struggled” since day one, however, I finally found the cure for my baby’s eczema – through diet. Here is my story (the Reader’s Digest condensed version):
Food Allergy Symptoms
Karli was born on Christmas Eve last year. She was born at just over 6 pounds, but was a mere 5.6 pounds when I brought her home from the hospital. I stress “I” because my husband was deployed during her birth, another stressor during this early time.
- Frail, fragile, gassy: For the first several weeks of her life I swore I was done with breastfeeding every day. “That’s it. No more for me. I am going to the bottle. I can’t handle this!” I won’t delve into the specifics here, but she didn’t latch well, she was too frail and fragile and she was extremely gassy.
- Irregular digestion: Would you believe she only went #2 once every 5 to 7 days? I found that was not uncommon with breastfed babies, but I later learned it should get more regular as they grow. Her “poop” schedule did not get more regular. In fact, at 11 months it was still not regular.
- Eczema and extremely dry skin: Karli had red splotchy spots on her skin. She had very dry skin. She would scream and cry at the mere thought of the bath tub (okay, maybe a newborn didn’t know she was going into the bath, but I did. And she hated it). NOTE: We have a new post here at KS about knocking back eczema without changing the diet, in case the other bullet points here don’t sound like you.
- Loss of weight/not gaining weight when growing: She was eating regularly by about 3 months old. I started to think we were in the clear with her digestive health and she was putting on weight (though she was still very little). It was short lived. Around 4 months she basically stopped gaining weight. By her 10 month check up she weighed in at 15 1/2 pounds. She was tall and scrawny.
- Dark circles/sunken eyes: To be honest, she had those bags under her eyes with dark circles since (almost) day one. I failed to notice this as a symptom. It is a clear sign that your child is fighting something.
Please note, aside from all of these “little baby” symptoms, cognitively she was spot on. Her growth points throughout these months were solid, except for her size. She didn’t let her size get her down. She was always quite a little firecracker and we usually refer to her as “wild!”
How we Tried to find a Cure
The above symptoms were not “Food allergy symptoms” in my mind. They were simply “symptoms.” We went to 4 doctors before finding our current doctor (who is uh-mazing). Each doctor (pediatrician, dermatologist, pediatric dermatologist, and internist) prescribed a different cream and suggested to just “let her grow out of it.”
Clearly, none of these doctors had been woken up by their tiny little baby clawing at herself until she was bleeding. Screaming and crying simply because her gut was miserable.
But we tried the creams. We ended up finally finding a prescribed anti-histamine and a prescribed skin oil that helped keep her eczema under control. She had some relief (and so did we!). Problem solved? No. Problem covered up.
My husband and I dabble in natural remedies (and are learning more) but are somewhat quick to take prescriptions as needed to just “fix the problem NOW!” After six (or so) months of the medicine however, we felt as though she needed to have a break. We needed to stop patching and start curing the problem. Enter: our 4th (and final) doctor – the man with the plan!
Katie here, interrupting because I can’t tell you how many doctors have told me that a skin issue likely isn’t related to food, even eczema. Dr Shiela Kilbane is convinced otherwise. In this interview I talked to her about how she became convinced, and how eliminating one food can make a HUGE difference for eczema.
Dr. Kilbane’s amazing course will help you do “root cause” detective work with your kids and figure out how to systematically get them through “common childhood illnesses” like constipation, asthma, bedwetting, recurrent ear infections, eczema and other skin rashes. Find out more here.
The Eczema Cure (Finally!)
Our (new) doctor asked us a series of questions to get to know us. This was already a bit different for us. “Did he actually care about us? I mean really care?” We asked ourselves this question throughout the appointment and each time we shared this story with our friends and family.
Yes, yes he did care. He genuinely wanted (still wants) to fix Karli from the inside out.
Doc: “Nikki, in my opinion, Karli has some very clear, common symptoms of food allergies.”
Me: “Common? I have been to 3 other doctors, no mention at all of food allergies?”
Doc: “Well, I think that is the path we need to take right now. The creams haven’t been working and there is more going on here. Have you tried eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet?”
Me: “NO BUT I WILL DO ANYTHING I NEED TO DO.”
Doc: “Perfect. Let’s eliminate most everything and give you both a break.”
Me: “Me? I’m fine. I am worried about her.”
Doc: *smile/snicker* “Ok, here is a sheet of what you CAN eat, it is easier than following what you cannot eat.
Me: “Should I stop breastfeeding if I am giving her these allergen foods through me?”
Doc: “Not a chance, keep breastfeeding. Don’t stop. And you may want to consider going past a year.”
Done and done. Eliminate this, eat more of that. Breastfeed. Got it.
He also mentioned that the eczema is what I can see on the outside. Due to food intolerance and allergies, her gut on the inside was struggling. Her body wasn’t able to take in all of the nutrients of the food I was giving her because it was already becoming damaged. He said once her gut has a chance to rest through this diet, she would start “packing on the pounds.”
I started on my modified elimination diet on November 10. By Thanksgiving Karli had clear skin and had already gained half of a pound!
By December 1, we had discontinued the use of any medication. Her skin is free and clear and oh so cute and….squishy!
Yesterday, December 13, Karli weighed in at 17 pounds. Yes, she is little for an 11 1/2 month old, but she is really “packing on the pounds”! After one month of the elimination diet she has gained 2 pounds. That is progress people! That is a cure.
A Few Things I have Gleaned this Past Year
- Find a doctor who cares for you from the inside out. Medicating, covering up, patching what is broken. These are good qualities in a doctor, and one’s that I appreciate, but they are not fixing the root problem, regardless of the severity of your condition.
- If breastfeeding, keep on keepin’ on. With all of these dietary restrictions, some have thought (and actually mentioned to me) it would be best and easiest to stop breastfeeding. After all, Karli is 11 1/2 months old. I personally decided that the benefits of breastfeeding outweighed the struggles of the elimination diet. Added perk? By sticking to the elimination diet, I have fixed my own health struggles. I would not have discovered my own food allergies (and years of build up due to intolerance) had I not given my body a break from gluten and dairy due to the elimination diet for my daughter.
- Keep a record of symptoms and time frames. Even if you think a symptom may not be directly related to a specific ailment, let the doctor make that decision (no offense). If the doctor really cares about fixing you from the inside out, he or she will need a lot of information.
- Don’t put this off! If you think there is any chance, any chance at all, that your child (or you!) could have a food allergy, go to the doctor – or try an elimination diet. Right away. Anytime before 2, your child’s gastrointestinal tract is so fragile. By removing foods with allergens, you allow your child’s gut to grow and get stronger. By 2, you can perhaps introduce these foods, properly prepared, and find that the allergy is no longer there. This information is directly from my doctor (a resource I thoroughly trust).
- Dr. Cranton’s explanation of the benefits of an elimination diet plus a detailed list of all things to be eliminated and avoided.
- Need to find a good doctor? My doctor (a D.O. – Ophthalmologist) recommends going to Osteopathic.org. Search terms to “live by” for a doctor: integrative, holistic, osteopathy (“D.O.”)
- Elimination Diet @ Christian Mommy Blogger: My elimination diet announcement plus some recipes that are safe for the diet (adding more on a regular basis!)
Have you experienced food allergies in your own life or your children’s lives? How have you identified these?