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Thread: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

  1. #11

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    Hi gigi2961,
    I considered it a strike because she went from nursing 6-8 times per day to refusing to nurse totally - biting when I attempted to nurse her or turning away screaming, never latching. This was a separation-induced strike, too which makes it different. I pumped ~5-6x a day to keep up my supply, and it did dwindle slightly but it comes right back when the baby starts nursing again. This is my first baby so I am no expert, but that seemed too quick to be weaning to me, despite all the well-intended family advice. Like you said in your first post, i did lots of crying and feeling really depressed. Oddly, what gave me a bit of hope was that an IBCLC told me that they had seen nursing strikes for 40+ days, and I thought, ok well I will just do my best until I totally loose my supply, and I felt very determined to continue trying as we headed into winter sick season. Also, supply can drop but you can get it back, which was a big pressure relief to me. As long as you still have even drips, you can get some supply back. I also read that a baby only needs to ingest 2oz breastmilk a day for immunological benefits, so every little bit is valuable!

    Aside from the health issues you are tackling, how are you giving the pumped milk to your son? I found that some sippy cups have a "bite valve" (OUCH!), and also giving my daughter anything where the flow is so instantly rewarding that she doesn't want to have to work so hard for it while nursing - both I think partially contributed to my nursing strike problem. You indicated your son could drain a sippy cup in a min flat makes me think he may be getting lots of instant gratification. Thermos brand sippy cups hurt your wallet, but the baby has to do some work for the liquid. Maybe some others have recommendations of other work-hard sip cups?

    I would also agree with lllmeg on questioning the lactose intolerance, and good for you for requesting more tests. And for modifying yours and your child's diet - which is very very difficult. Cow's milk is in everything, and my daughter was also extremely sensitive to it. Its in many processed foods - breads, crackers, most restaurant food sauces, butter, boxed add-water dinners, and is disguised under names like lactoglobulin, whey, casin, etc. Also, when there is one sensitivity, there can be many more - very hard to tease it all out. Allergies/intolerances/sensitivities are just hard - and it will require both your vigilance as well as the advanced degrees of doctors to figure it all out. But you are the ultimate and sometimes only advocate for your child - So again I applaud you for requesting more tests, questioning what you don't think makes sense, and trying so hard to make the best decisions for your child.

  2. #12

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    lllmeg - did they ever diagnose your daughter or make any suggestions as to why she was having GI distress for so long? We are on week 4.
    No. They tested her poopy diaper for blood, and that was negative. Then they were going to test for e.coli, also giardia and some other parasite, but it would have cost us $400 and when I did a little investigating on cdc.gov it did not seem worth it-either the tests were often inconclusive, or the treatment protocol (manage symptoms) was unchanged even with a positive test. With my daughter’s pediatrician's blessing, we declined the tests. But, again, she was not losing weight. She has dropped %'s for several months now, but never lost weight. Also, she never seemed really ill. Certainly she looked pale and was slightly listless during the worst of it, she clearly was not herself for about a while. But that was it-no fever, no vomiting, nothing else besides the constant watery brown smelly yuck poops.

    OK I found this article that explains (If I understand it) that, after a bout of severe diarrhea, the body may not be able to make enough lactase (in order to digest lactose) for a while. Is this what your doctor suspects? I just had time to skim it, here is the link: http://www.allergyclinic.co.nz/guides/21.html

    If it is a lactose thing, isn’t there a way to test for it before weaning? Does it mean your child cannot produce lactase- so can’t that be tested? Lots of people take a lactase supplement in order to drink cow milk. Why would something like that not work in this case? I think the case can be made that your milk and nursing are important enough to preserve it, even if there IS a temporary lactose intolerance.

    Basically here is why I like Carlos Gonzalez. (Author of My Child Won’t Eat) He points out that, far too often, breastfeeding is blamed for poor gain (or even lost weight) when either 1) There actually was not a problem, it was a scale or human error, or just a bad month due to illness or something, or the problem was caused by something else-early or too much solids or baby given too much water or ‘baby tea’ or something or 2) there really IS a serious medical issue but it was disregarded because breastfeeding was blamed. He does discuss children who have actually lost weight, and it was sometimes BECAUSE baby was weaned when all baby ate was breastmilk OR because the child was truly ill which was finally confirmed by tests. Basically, his point is, since breastmilk is an utterly complete food, nutritionally, and perfectly formulated for the human gut, the last thing one would want to do when there is a question of baby truly being ill or not gaining weight is to take away the best possible substance baby could be ingesting.

    As far as a lack of appetite, one thing Gonzalez mentions is iron deficiency and B12 deficiency leading to poor appetite. I imagine other illnesses or deficiencies could lead to this. But also, doesn’t it make sense, when a child is very ill with diarrhea and vomiting, for a child to not want to eat? I understand that due to the length of the illness, this is causing a big issue, but certainly the last thing I wan to do if I have a stomach virus is eat.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    So the plot thickens… My daughter is still drinking breastmilk and had a whole day on Thursday with NO poops, then a normal poop this morning followed by two mostly solid poops, giving way to watery diarrhea again by early afternoon. Something is triggering her but IMO the lactose in my breastmilk cannot be blamed. Otherwise how could she have digested it no problem for 36 hours? Wouldn't it be all or nothing?

    So far the stool tests have revealed nothing significant, just malabsorption.

    She also has a eczema-like rash on her neck and a bunch of pimple-like clusters around her nose and mouth that have been there since this whole diarrhea thing started. My pediatrician has dismissed these things saying they're "just rashes babies get" but I can't help wonder if there's a link. (Yes, I know, I will start shopping for a new pediatrician!)

    emmamama - based on your experience, how much lactose does one have to ingest to trigger a bout of diarrhea in a sensitive baby? She had one bite of cereal this morning that had been sitting in milk, with the milk drained off. It was just ONE BITE. Would that be enough to set her system off again after 36 hours of things having calmed down?

    I'm also experimenting with not giving her sippy cups to see if it will encourage nursing. On her own, she's seems happy nursing 3-4 times a day. So maybe that's just what we do for now. I'm still offering water because I don't want her to dehydrate with all the pooping.

    Ugh. 4 weeks of this and counting. But I won't let them tell me to wean. I have to figure this out!

  4. #14

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    I agree. rash makes it sound like allergy, but I know you are already working on that. Have you read this? http://www.bfmed.org/Media/Files/Pro...ish_120211.pdf

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    Hi gig2961,

    I'm so sorry your daughter is going through this discomfort. It must be hard for you to try to get to the root problem. Just wanted to encourage you to persist.

    If I can, I'd like to give you a bit of back-story from my own experience. I'm sorry if this is TMI. My DH and I ate a contaminated meat and developed a parasite infestation. After I went through treatment, because of the gut trauma I experienced, I had sensitivity to everything--especially dairy and wheat. I had a celiac-like symptoms for the first time in my life then. It took about 6 months of increasing soluble fiber and taking probiotics and fish oil to remedy the situation. Your family may be like mine and consume a lot of insoluble fiber from fruits and vegetables, but it's soluble fiber from sources like oats and psyllium husk that provide a cushion against the digestive tract and prevent repeat trauma.

    I'm not in any way suggesting your DD has parasites, but rather that gut trauma can take a surprisingly long time to clear up. Have you considered giving your DD a probiotic and a small amount of fish oil to reduce inflammation? You may need to have her on a diet that eliminates wheat, as well, as it can be an irritant for an upset intestine in the short-term, even when no underlying allergy is present.

    HTH! Hugs to you both!

  6. #16

    Default Re: Sudden intolerance to lactose in breastmilk?

    Hi gigi2961,
    Yes, in my daughters case, if I ate a single shred of a piece of cheese off a salad at a restaurant, she would vomit within hours, reliably. That is what would happen if I ate it while breastfeeding her, much less her eating any dairy directly. She is 15 months now and has largely grown out of it. But again, I think it sounds like the doctors think you are dealing with something different. My daughter's problem was a cow's milk protein intolerance which is totally different than a lactose digestion problem. I found this article to be helpful: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-heal...d-sensitivity/ There is lots of info out there, which I'm sure you are already combing.

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