Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I Went Casein (and Gluten Free) for My Niklas

Why I Went Casein (and Gluten Free) for my Niklas

by Kati

It started noticing that when I would breastfeed Niklas, he seemed to cry more when I had eaten a lot of dairy that day. He seemed to be okay if I just ate a little bit, though.

When he was one year old, I needed to stop breastfeeding so I gave him baby formula instead. I didn’t want to give him normal cow’s milk for many reasons. He handled the baby formula well, so I thought that everything was okay. He also starting eating some solid food which included gluten and dairy. But I noticed that he was often a cranky little boy. I felt terrible because I couldn’t understand why he was in such a bad mood so often. He didn’t have any noticeable symptoms like skin rash, loose bowel movements, etc. No “typical” symptoms that would give me a clue that it could be his diet.

So I blamed myself. Then he started to develop constant ear infections and also bad laryngitis. When I heard that some milk allergies may disturb the intestinal flora and immunity in a way that would cause infections without any other symptoms, this rang a bell. So I put my son on a dairy free diet to see if he would get better.

To my surprise, I felt I got a new son: his cranky mood wasn’t a part of his personality – he had been just feeling bad because of the dairy! So we got an easygoing, happy child after we gave up casein!
He got ear tubes at 18 months old because of earlier problems and because he had developed a lot of ear wax, but since cutting out dairy (and having tubes) he has had only one ear infection in the last 2 years. In general, he is now a happy and content little boy who is not any more sick than any other children — maybe even less!

Niklas was tested for a milk allergy at the allergy clinic. He didn’t react to the prick test nor did he have bad symptoms from the double blind test of milk formula. As an experiment, he was given dairy-based infant formula for one week.  He managed that week fine. But after it, his immunity dropped and he got sick with laryngitis again – in the middle of summer — when he normally would have been very healthy. I suspect that it was the milk that caused it.

So the allergy tests showed nothing, but if he gets creamy food, he gets a stomach ache and feels bad. Even our doctor noticed it. Medical people often do not recognize this problem of immunity etc, but I have heard of a boy whose only problem with milk is eye infections. Reflux can be one symptom,which is usually treated with medication and not a dairy free diet.

So if my child was cranky, had infections a lot, had GER (reflux) or many other symptoms, I would certainly try a dairy free diet for a while to see if it helps. Some people may add dairy back into their diet with proper enzyme therapy.

What it comes to a gluten free diet, Niklas shows some changes in his attention span and concentration if he gets a lot of gluten. He starts to act as if he is “not present” and he loses good eye contact. I am also happy I noticed that this is because of gluten intolerance (he is not celiac), because these traits are easily thought just to be “part of DS”. I am working on healing the gut with enzymes and probiotics in order to return gluten into his diet one day. Meanwhile he will continue to be on a gluten free diet as well. Whatever it takes to keep him healthy!