Infants and constipation - Can chronic constipation be a manifestation of intolerance to cow's milk?

• About our infants and constipation, we can say that it’s important to have some dietary changes that may bring relief, and they are as follows:

1. Over 2 months old -- Offer 2-4 ounces of fruit juice (grape, pear, apple, cherry, or prune) twice a day,from the bottle or by spoon.

2. Over 4 months old Babies who have advanced to solids may be offered more fruits and vegetables , foods with high-fiber content (peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, spinach, oat pulp -meal mixed) twice a day, or small amounts of bran sprinkled on top of cereal (about 1 teaspoon).

• Constipation in newborn Babies who are breastfed usually is not experienced. Bottle-fed infants often do.

• Fluids: Babies age birth to 6 months should receive most of their fluids from breast milk or formula.

• Passing thicker than normal stools less than once a day may be a sign that a bottle-fed baby is suffering from constipation, and may need to switch formulas according to a pediatrician's advice.

• It is very common for babies to experience mild constipation during the time period four to seven months when they usually begin eating solid foods, as their bodies must learn to adjust to a drastic change in diet.

• Certain baby foods, such as strained bananas, and carrots often contribute to harder stools and constipation. For this one is important to take enough fluid. The body tries to make up for a lack of fluid by absorbing water from the intestines, causing fecal matter to become hard and dry.

•Milk studies about infants and constipation:

• One out of every five babies suffers from colic. Pediatricians learned long ago that cows' milk was often the reason. We now know that breast- feeding mothers can have colicky babies if the mothers are consuming cow's milk. PEDIATRICS 1991;87(4):439-444

• Milk is one of the foods that cause constipation. -Journal of the American Medical Association 230(4) Oct. 28, 1974.

• Researchers at the University of Palermo in Italy worked with 65 children with chronic constipation. All of these children had been treated with laxatives when dietary measures had failed. Even with the medical treatment, these children were still constipated, having hard, painful stools only every 3 to 15 days.

• Each child received either cow's milk or soymilk for 2 weeks, with no one knowing which was which. Next, they had a week during which they could eat and drink anything they wanted to wash out the effects of the first 2 weeks.

Then they switched sides for 2 weeks and got the milk that they didn't get the first time. Careful recordings of the bowel habits were made.

Results Forty-four of the 65 children (68 percent) had a response while receiving soy milk and were no longer constipated! Anal fissures and pain with defecation resolved. None of the children who received cow's milk had a response.The redness, swelling, and fissures on their bottoms healed (New England Journal of Medicine, 1998; 339:1100-1104).

How wonderful to finally have relief with this kind of simple remedy after diet and medicines hadn't worked for so long!

• Nevertheless, sometimes constipation can be the only symptom of cow's milk intolerance. , so the cure is simply not to use it, and instead rather to use breastfeeding or formula based on soy milk.

• For infants and constipation problem, time may prove that it is better for these children to avoid the offending protein by switching milks rather than being treated with laxatives. Presumably, swelling of the intestinal lining causes the constipation. Whatever the exact mechanism, the problem is likely with the protein in cow's milk, not with the fat or lactose.

• Conclusions: In young children, chronic constipation can be a manifestation of intolerance of cow's milk. Cow's milk intolerance is a well-known cause of diarrhea. It seems that cow's milk can also cause chronic constipation. What else can do cow's milk:

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Call your pediatrician if:

If there is constipation in newborn babies younger than 2 months. An infant who is constipated typically has bowel movements that look hard or pellet-like.

An infant (except those exclusively breastfed) goes 3 days without a stool -- call immediately if the child is vomiting or irritable.

Parents who notice that their baby is frequently constipated should consult a pediatrician who may suggest dietary changes, but in some cases it is possible that constipation is caused by a more serious medical condition, such as hypothyroidism.

Key Words: infant health • breast-feeding • infants and constipation • cure baby constipation.

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