Update on Moses' Health Issues

Hi friends! As some of you know, Moses has been having blood in his stool for a number of weeks. After a few visits to the pediatrician and a Pediatric Gastro-Intestinal Specialist, the doctors determined that he has a protein allergy, most likely to dairy products, although there are a number of different proteins that can cause these symptoms including eggs, nuts, and soy. In case you are wondering, as I was, whether this is similar to the milk allergies that I had as a child, the short answer is no. The GI specialist was kind enough to give me a brief tutorial on the various types of milk sensitivities which I'll try to summarize.

There are three basic types of milk sensitivities:

1. The most common milk sensitivity seen in the general population is lactose intolerance. However, it is very rare to find lactose intolerance in children under age 6; it is almost never found in babies. Lactose is a form of sugar found in dairy products. Some people have an inability to digest this sugar due to low levels of the enzyme lactase. The intestinal issues Moses is having now do make him slightly more likely to deal with lactose intolerance in the future, but lactose intolerance is not what he is facing now.

2. Another milk issue is a traditional cow's milk allergy, which is what I dealt with as a child. This issue is caused by an immune system malfunction whereby the body erroneously identifies certain milk proteins as harmful and releases histamines and other chemicals to "fight off" the proteins. The release of these histamines and chemicals produces symptoms such as runny nose, difficulty breathing and hives. Because a traditional cow's milk allergy is caused by deficiencies in the immune system, this problem does not usually appear in babies because they do not have a fully developed immune system (in my case my allergy to milk did not appear until around age 3). Moses is strongly predisposed genetically to develop this type of traditional cow's milk allergy later in life, but this is not the issue he is dealing with now either.

3. The third type of milk sensitivity, the one Moses has, is a milk protein allergy, or more accurately a milk protein intolerance (according to the GI specialist, referring to this condition as an 'allergy' is actually a complete misnomer because, as with all other allergies, a milk protein allergy does not involve any malfunction of the immune system). A milk protein intolerance is caused when a baby's gastrointestinal system is unable to digest milk proteins properly. The proteins cause the lining of the intestines to become irritated, and bleeding caused by the inflammation of the intestines is passed out in the baby's bowel movements. The treatment for this issue requires that I eliminate all dairy products from my diet. When the offending proteins work their way out of Moses' system, we should see an improvement in the blood in his stool.

Sorry for the boring science lesson, but I hope that will help clear up exactly what Moses is facing. The good news is that most babies outgrow this type of milk protein allergy by 12 months, and virtually all the rest will outgrow it by 2-3 years of age, so this is unlikely to be a long-term issue with Moses.

The bad news is that after over 3 weeks of eliminating dairy products from my diet, we have seen only a very slight improvement in Moses' symptoms. So the next step is to eliminate eggs and nuts as well. We began the dairy, egg and nut free diet on August 11th, and it can take 2-3 weeks for the proteins to work their way out of Moses' system completely. Please join us in praying that this new diet relieves Moses' symptoms. We go back to the Pediatric GI specialist in early September to see how well this new diet is working.

In addition to the blood in the stool, Moses seems to have developed a nasty case of reflux which is causing a lot of spitting up and a serious increase in fussiness, especially when we put him down on his back to sleep. I considered putting the little guy on reflux meds to try to help him out a little with the discomfort, but his pediatrician wasn't really in favor of it for a few reasons. First, he said that the inflammation of Moses' intestines caused by the milk protein allergy is probably contributing to the reflux, and once we find a solution to the bleeding in the stool the reflux will most likely go away on its own. Also, one side effect of the reflux medicines is that it makes babies more susceptible to gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis isn't terribly prevalent at this time of year, but if Moses were to get it, along with his other gastrointestinal issues, that could be a serious problem. Instead of meds, the pediatrician recommended that we try feeding him smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day, keeping him upright for 1/2 hour after feedings, burping him more thoroughly after he eats, and raising the head of his mattress to keep his head up more while he is sleeping. Thankfully I have noticed a significant improvement in Moses' spitting up and fussiness since increasing his feedings to every 1 1/2 to 2 hours (instead of every 3 hours) so I'm hoping that continues.

My apologies for this rather bleak sounding blog post, but I hope you feel more informed after reading it. We praise God that we have access to such amazing medical care. While Moses' issues are unpleasant, we know that they are so minor in comparison with what many others are dealing with around the world. We are very grateful for all of your prayers, and hope to have good news to share with you soon surrounding this issue.


  1. Hi Aimee. We will be praying for you guys. More frequent feedings and keeping him upright add significant time to your mothering. Thanks for the detailed explanation. Way to be a funky meat-eating, veggy-loving, dairy-free, egg-less momma! love, abs


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