Archive for colic
My near-mantra is that migraines are not a problem in the head. Rather, these headaches are a sign that something is wrong with your overall health. The evidence supporting this position is plentiful and some of this research can be found in a recent blog post that refers to migraines as a “progressive brain disorder.”
While migraines can begin at any age, it is not unusual to have them start as a toddler. I recently had a patient whose migraines began as early as 2 years of age. As a parent, I can think of few things more achingly painful than watching your innocent child suffer the debilitating pain of a migraine while all you can do is watch helplessly. No wonder some parents who seek help from pediatric neurologists resort to neurotransmitter-altering medications given at a time when the brain is undergoing some of the most dramatic changes of his or her lifespan.
But what if there is another answer? What if there was an early warning sign that something was wrong with your little one’s system?
What if you could change it THEN, possibly derailing the chance that your small child will suffer with migraines?
As you can guess, I wouldn’t bring this up unless there was an answer.
This particular study looks at the relationship between an infant who experienced infantile colic and his or her later risk of developing chronic migraine headaches. Here’s what they found:
- Children with migraine were 661% more likely to have had infantile colic.
- If the child had migraine without aura the risk was still massive at 701%.
- Migraine with aura 573% .
- However, this association was not present with tension-type headaches.
In other words, somewhere there is an incredibly strong connection between infantile colic and migraines. There are several mechanisms that might explain the association.
One possible explanation is that the gut produces a very high level of neurotransmitters, which is why the gut is frequently referred to as the “second brain.” An alteration in the production of these neurotransmitters in the gut could clearly affect brain function.
As an example, 2/3 of the body’s serotonin comes from the gut. When the gut is inflamed, it will produce even more serotonin. This could result in the infant’s brain being bathed in an unnaturally high level of serotonin, resulting in a lifetime of a sort of serotonin deficency. Serotonin clearly has an influence on the brain and some migraine medications (like amytriptaline) are used to treat migraines.
The other explanation can start with a personal story. When my little Keegan was an infant, he experienced colic. As any parent can tell you, colic can be heartbreaking and frustrating, especially in the middle of the night when the parent is going on virtually no sleep.
While most cases of colic are said to last about 3 months, Keegan’s was handled in about 4 weeks through a combination of probiotics, a visit to a pediatric chiropractor and cutting dairy out of mom’s diet while she continued to nurse.
There is absolutely NO doubt that food allergies can contribute to chronic migraine headaches. The changes made for Keegan were designed to shift his immune system back into balance (probiotics for Th1 stimulation, allergen avoidance to tone down Th2 pathways). An altered immune system can produce inflammation that is bad for the brain and bad for the blood vessels leading to the brain.
This study can give us further insight into what might cause migraines later in life. It may be that, in those who suffer from chronic migraine headaches AND had infantile colic, the identification and avoidance of food allergies and calming any inflammation in the gut may be a critical piece to the puzzle of solving migraine headaches for you or someone you care about.
Improvement of symptoms in infant colic with lactase
This is such a simple and easy approach to any infant suffering with colic. Remember to add in probiotics as well.
Synergy : Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics 14 (5), 359-363
I hear it time and time again. “Baby Johnny didn’t have problems until I stopped breast feeding and switched to baby formula.” In the past, I have focused on the new food or formula being introduced. That has just been the path that made the most sense. After all, everything was going well until new foods were introduced into the baby’s system.
If the problem seems to be with the introduction of the baby formula, I will recommend switching to a hydrolyzed formula like Nutramigen or Alimentum. It’s not a matter of switching from soy to cow’s milk or vice versa–it’s just that your infant’s gut is not ready to handle anything other than mom’s milk until well after 6 months. This is why the hydrolyzed formulas are a better option–the proteins are already enzymatically pre-digested so his or her little digestive system has less to react to.
Of course, all of this was before I read this particular article.
I have addressed all the benefits of breast feeding over baby formula in a previous blog article that can be read by clicking here, so I won’t belabor the issue again.
Researchers identified two key abilities of breast milk that were not present in formula:
- Breast milk had a natural ability to quiet smooth muscle cells, like those of the GI tract. This could help nursing infants from having abdominal cramping and pain.
- Breast milk had higher antioxidant abilities over baby formula. Greater antioxidant protection can obviously lead to all kinds of protective benefits over the formula.
I won’t belabor the point again, but I will highlight that we really have NO idea the full breadth and diversity of compounds that are present in breast milk. As a result, even the best baby formula will be just a shadow of what breast feeding is to a developing newborn and infant.
Effect of a Low-Allergen Maternal Diet on Colic Among Breastfed Infants
Many would not think that the foods a nursing mother takes in would have a large impact on certain conditions her infant may be experiencing, but that’s not the case at all. Even the mercury from her fillings can show up in breast milk. This reinforces that a nursing mother needs to be fully aware of the quality and type of foods she is eating. What was interesting, however, was that, although the reduction in distress in the infant was clearly demonstrated, the moms did not note much of a difference.
Bacterial counts of intestinal Lactobacillus species in infants with colic
There is no longer a question that the bacterial flora in our bodies (pharynx, stomach, SI, LI, vaginal vault..) have an impact on our health. While many clinicians that wouldn’t recognize a medical journal if it hit them in the face remains oblivious to this fact, the research, as always, moves on. We are now focusing on the types and levels of bacteria that positively and negatively impact our health. Considering the number of bacteria in our gut, this job is not an easy one.
The research comes in in bits and pieces, but I’m sure that we will soon have a much clearer picture of the impacts different species have on our health. Maybe then our focus will shift away from antibiotic resistance to the much larger problem of destroying normal, protective flora.
Cytokine Parameters and Mortality in Chronic Heart Failure
This is an interesting article, not only looking at different types of tissue necrosis factor (TNF) in heart disease, but also other cytokines as well. As happens so often with human physiology and disease, we start to see the tangled web that decides our health. TNFalpha levels are increased by insulin and abdominal adipose tissue. Both high insulin levels and obesity are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Could this be one of the mechanisms by which this occurs? Maybe this is the route by which whole grains protects against heart disease; by controlling the insulin response and lowering production of TNFalpha… Circulation — Abstracts: Rauchhaus et al. 102 (25): 3060 http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/25/3060
Aging, Immunity, and Cancer
This is a review of the current literature supporting the idea that our immune system is constantly fighting off cancer, and it is the slowing of the immune system response with age that increases our risk for cancer. This really does shed new light on many new therapies coming out that focus on suppressing the immune response, such as the new TNFalpha inhibitors for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. We don’t fully understand how our bodies work, and blocking a step in this process may have unforseen consequences.
Cancer Control; JMCC 7(6):513-522, 2000 Background: The prime function of the immune system is to protect the entire organism from a variety of insults and illnesses, including the development of cancer. The question of how age-related declines in immune function contribute to an increasing incidence of malignancies continues to be a focus of discussion and speculation. Conclusions: Senescent decline in immune surveillance leads to the accumulation of cellular and DNA mutations that could be a significant factor in the development of malignancy and programmed cell death or apoptosis observed in the elderly.
Hydrolyzed Whey Formula Reduces Duration of Crying in Colic
Considering that milk is a common allergen, especially in infants, it is not surprising that digesting milk proteins further will reduce the effects of this allergy on the GI tract. Of course, my reaction would be to ask why we insist on trying to modify something that the infant is very likely allergic to–just take them off of dairy. An interesting side note–recent studies have pointed to the efficacy of manipulative therapy in reducing the crying time in infantile colic. If we begin to agree that colic is a GI disorder, than we also have to accept that spinal manipulation will also have beneficial effects on the visceral system as well..
Pediatrics 2000;106:1349-1354 An extensively hydrolyzed whey formula is effective in reducing the duration of crying in infants with colic. “The crying of infants on hypoallergenic formula decreased by 77 minutes per day more than the crying children on standard cow’s milk formula,” the researchers say. After adjustment for gender and the duration of crying during the qualification period, the difference was 47 minutes per day. Both figures were statistically significant, the researchers determined. A 63-minute difference in the reduction of crying time was observed in favor of the whey hydrolysate formula group when analysis was performed according to the intention-to-treat principle. The team reports that after the intervention week, 40% of the infants in the whey hydrolysate group no longer met the inclusion criteria regarding crying, compared with 28% of the infants in the standard formula group. Dr. Lucassen and colleagues conclude that “additi! onal research is needed to establish the effectiveness of hydrolysate formulas in infants with atopic features and in infants showing the complete picture of infantile colic, as opposed to infants with excessive crying as the single symptom.”
Mineral Supplements May Give Athletes an Edge
This article would be of great interest to any long distance runners. I will always strongly recommend that long distance runners that higher levels of antioxidants than everyone else because they are producing greater amount of free radicals. It is ironic that something viewed as healthy like running, can actually create more damage to your body if you don’t get the nutrients you need.
(article) Athletes may improve their performance by incorporating trace mineral supplements in their diet. In fact, this strategy could turn out to be a legal, healthy, and perfectly acceptable alternative to doping and perhaps even give Danish athletes an advantage in international competition, the chief coach for the Danish Elite Athletes told Reuters Health. Some experts claim that deficiencies in minerals such as selenium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and calcium are detrimental to basic physiological functions of the heart, muscles, and immune system, coach Lars Nielsen said. “Team Denmark, the self-governing institution of elite sport in this country, places great emphasis on optimal guidelines for nutrition, but the idea of supplementing minerals is new,” he added. “Top-notch athletes often exert themselves to the point where their bodies are depleted of natural substances like magnesium, zinc, or calcium. If you c! ompare such athletes with normal individuals, who are not as active, you will find that the athletes have enormous nutrient requirements and may therefore easily run into shortages,” Dr. Knut Flytlie, a Scandinavian expert in nutrition, pointed out in an interview with Reuters Health. He is conducting the pilot study in collaboration with The Danish Athletic Federation and Nielsen.
Homocysteine, cystathionine, MMA for diagnosis of vitamin deficiency
I have come across many patients who had “normal” blood levels of Vit B12 and yet responded positively to high dose B12 and folic acid. Our current laboratory values for B12 are set much too low and clinicians are not recognizing this. This study suggests that other markers are much better at diagnosing vitamin deficiency than serum levels. My recommendation….some companies make excellent and inexpensive 2000mcg B12/folate supplements; some of these labs tests are very expensive. If you consider a B12 or folate deficiency, supplement it. Synergy Abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2362.2000.00746.x/abstract
Low periconceptional folate warrants increased food fortification
Why do we continue to support food fortification? How about a return to whole grains and fresh fruits that are loaded with folate? The food they want to fortify are processed and unhealthy for us to begin with; adding supplements do not make them healthier!! Synergy Abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2000.00258.x/abstract