Rickets: Is Your Child At Risk?

Like most moms whose children have food allergies, I am always trying to make sure that the limited foods my daughter eats are nutritious enough to make up for the foods she cannot have. For this reason, we met with a dietitian, and I have continued to experiment with many recipes to try and make foods my daughter can not only eat, but enjoy–hence the reason that I blog and share what I have learned.

But one very important piece has been lacking in my daughter’s diet puzzle; something I did not know about, and our dietitian did not even mention to us. Of all the doctor’s we have seen, it was Dr. Google–of all places–that finally brought up the importance of vitamin D and Calcium in a child’s diet, and the consequences when these needs are not met. I found this out after my daughter began complaining about pain in her knees, and then woke up screaming and crying in pain, holding onto her knees.

 

What Is Rickets?

According to the American Family Physician’s website, “Rickets is a bone problem that affects children. It happens when your child’s bones do not form correctly. Rickets can make your child’s bones hurt, and the bones can bend and break easily”. And it affects many kids in the knees.

The cause, according to the same site, can either be genetic or due to a nutritional deficiency–specifically of vitamin D and calcium. Nutritional rickets can presumably be treated by fixing a child’s diet, but that of course would take time while your child is in pain. So, it is obviously best to just try to avoid it in the first place.

 

How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting Rickets?

If there is a family history of rickets, I do not have an answer for that. But if your child is on a special diet and cannot have things like dairy and eggs, then it is very important to ensure that your child has enough calcium and vitamin D.

Some allergy-friendly sources of calcium according to Webmd, include spinach, kale, okra, collard greens, salmon and other fish, white beans, fortified orange juice, and cereals fortified with calcium (and vitamin D).

Allergy friendly sources of vitamin D are harder to come by, however. Dairy and eggs are the main sources other than the sun for most children. But for a child like mine with developmental allergic colitis, who cannot have dairy or eggs, the sources are very limited. The only allergy friendly sources of vitamin D that I have found are salmon, shrimp, fortified orange juice, and fortified rice milk.

 

Take Away Lessons

So, if your child has food allergies, should you be concerned about rickets? Well, I like to go by the “better safe than sorry” motto. My daughter’s doctor believes she is a little young to be experiencing growing pains, but since vitamin deficient rickets is cured by diet change anyway, we are giving it time to get better before going any further medically.

But that woke me up to the reality of how important it is to make sure your child has a balanced diet; and that scared me. The last thing any of us want is for our children to be in pain or to have serious health issues. If my daughter did not have food allergies, I would not have to worry about this because milk and eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks for snacks would fill most of the nutritional needs that she is now lacking.

But when a child has food allergies, essential nutrients become much more of a reality, and it is imperative that parents think outside that box and provide their child with the things they need to grow and develop normally. It is a lot of work. It takes a lot of planning. It is not easy. But our children are worth it. And if you need ideas to get these important vitamins (and others) in your child’s diet, please keep reading and check our my other blogs with recipes and information.

 

Toddler Food Ideas Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D

These are foods things that I now make sure my daughter gets:

  • Fortified rice milk at least a couple times a day
  • Fortified orange juice in the morning with breakfast
  • Salmon at least twice a week
    • See my recipe for salmon tacos here.
    • Salmon is great because it is also high in fat, which is so important for a growing child, and unlike many types of fish, it is low in mercury.
  • Fried shrimp a few times a month
    • Bread thawed, raw shrimp in GF all-purpose flour mixed with fair amounts of Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper for flavoring. Fry in avocado or canola oil.
  • Fried okra at least once a week.
    • Bread halfway frozen okra okra with GF all-purpose flour & cornmeal (3-1 ratio), mixed with a fair amount of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. You will not need an egg-replacer because the okra itself is slimy. And if it is only halfway thawed, it will be just slimy enough for the breading to stick, but not so slimy that it makes a mess. Fry in avocado or canola oil.
    • My daughter will eat fried okra dipped in (allergy friendly) ranch like she’s eating Pringles; she can’t stop.
  • Spinach and other leafy greens at least 3 times a week.
    • I add spinach and romaine or other lettuce to all of her tacos and wraps. And since she cannot have normal bread, she eats tacos and wraps regularly throughout the week.
    • Another way to add leafy greens is to add them in a soup. Try my Winter Comfort Soup and replace half of the Swiss chard with spinach (or all of it, if you’d rather). Just add the spinach closer to the end of cooking since it wilts much faster than Swiss chard.
  • Homemade hummus with navy beans and garbanzo beans
    • I do not have a recipe for that online yet, but I have in the past just blended navy beans, garbanzo beans, avocado oil, lemon juice, herbs, and paprika together to make a hummus for my daughter to dip her veggie crisps in.
    • Navy beans are a white bean, so they are high in calcium.
  • Indian Fry Bread tacos occasionally
    • See my blog here, for the recipe.

 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article or benefited from it, please like and share, and check out more of my blogs. Thanks!

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A Nuisance to Society

I recently had a conversation with someone who complained to me about a nuisance they had in their life. A nuisance who was an inconvenience to this person’s lifestyle. Why? They were needy. How dare they fall into hard times and not have enough money to care for themselves? How dare they lose someone they love and struggle now to provide for their family? How dare they have children with needs or have health issues themselves that limit what they can do to provide? What a nuisance.

And what about Joe down the street that lives in a trailer park? Speaking of those nuisances to society and to my life, that trailer park really is an eye sore. But do you know Joe? The guy who lost his job because of a battle with cancer. The guy who had no family to help when he became disabled and lost his home. The guy who is in constant pain, barely surviving off of his disability check, and rarely able to make it to the store to buy what he needs with it. The guy who has lost it all and is just trying to survive within the means that he has until the cancer finally takes his life. A nuisance.

When did the less fortunate among us become so odious to those of us who just happen to have more? We did not make the air we breathe, or the water we drink, and yet we ALL need them to survive. Some of us may be more financially well off. Some of us may live in a nice house on a hill with a view–like myself. But how does that make me better than Joe? Why is my house so much nicer to look at? Because it’s more expensive? If we’re honest with ourselves, how do we define a “nice” neighborhood? Is it not how expensive the houses look and how well “kept up” they are because this and that homeowner could afford a gardener? Does it not all revolve around how much money we have? And yet someone like Joe is more genuine, kind, and caring than most human beings who live in those houses with a view. He has more life experience. He has actually been humbled enough to notice others around him.

When did the poor and needy become a nuisance? What ever happened to caring for those in need; not looking down on them. What ever happened to compassion? For a society that claims this “right” and that for all these different groups, and equality in all things, what are we actually doing to provide equality? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about giving up all of your money per se. It all starts with an attitude.

If we truly wanted to help the needy, it would not be for political gain, to make me feel good about myself, or to look better in the eyes of others. It would be because I CARE for the person I’m helping. It would be because I see myself as EQUAL to them. Different circumstances, sure, but human. We are all human. We are all frail in one way or another. And in one way or another, we are all odious to someone. We all have our failures and our shortcomings.

That is compassion. Not looking at Joe’s trailer as an eye sore, but seeing him as a fellow human being who has a much harder life than I do. Someone who is just like me–just living within his means and trying to survive this world of hate and deception that so deceitfully pretends to care.

Try that on for size. Don’t just help someone. CARE for someone. See them as your equal, no matter what their circumstances are or how much money they have. I dare you: have compassion on your fellow human beings.

Leaky Gut? Food Allergies? Why Does my Baby (and Toddler) KEEP Having Diarrhea??

Is your baby having bloody streaks (or full on blood) in their diapers? Is your toddler having constant bouts of diarrhea with chunks of undigested food and mucous? Gross, yeah I know. This article is about poop.  So if you have a weak stomach, it may not be for you. But my husband and I had QUITE the experience with our little girl and I wanted to share our experience so it may be helpful for others going through similar situations. We did find some answers, and my hope is that this will give others some answers, or at least somewhere to start!

Intestinal Issues from Birth 

When my daughter was a newborn she lost A LOT of weight in the hospital. So much so that they had us give her the breast milk bank (or whatever it’s called) milk almost as often as I nursed her.  This helped her gain enough weight to leave the hospital, but she was still far below her birth weight, she was not sleeping well, and she was ALWAYS fussy (colicky they called it).  Then came the bloody streaks in her stools. I don’t know about you, but being a new mom–I FREAKED out when I saw blood! I was so afraid something was wrong with our little girl, so I brought her in right away and talked to the doctor.

The doctor recommended that I stay away from dairy because the dairy protein is not easily digested by some babies. So I tried that for a couple weeks. During those couple of weeks, there were still bloody streaks in her stools (which were green–also a sign of diarrhea), but they told me to wait at least two weeks to allow the dairy to get out of my system.

Well, after the 2 weeks were over, my daughter had more blood than usual in one of her diapers over a weekend, so we took her to the ER. Once again, the doctor’s said it was probably the dairy, but they said to cut out all soy also because the soy protein can be just as hard on a baby as dairy.  They also gave us some formula that had broken down dairy proteins because she was still under her birth weight.

We tried the formula that night when we got home. After a couple hours, I changed my daughter’s diaper and there was so much blood that it was basically half blood, and half poop. An hour later she had another bowel movement that was mostly blood. Once again, I FREAKED out. Back to the ER…

This ER doctor said that she must be so sensitive that even this special formula is bothering her stomach, so stop using the formula and just continue not eating soy or dairy. She said it probably just needed more time to get out of my system and that I was probably eating dairy without realizing (SO frustrating when you KNOW you are being way too careful for that to happen!!).  So we stopped giving her the formula, and saw her doctor the next week. He agreed that it may be the dairy and soy, but referred us to Pediatric Gastroenterology anyway.

Anwsers from GI

After a few weeks of waiting for an appointment (and a few more weeks of diapers with bloody streaks, no matter what I tried), we finally got in to Pediatric GI, and boy were they helpful!

The GI doctor finally explained to me what the issue was and why: Basically, my daughter’s intestines were not developed enough to digest the 5 major proteins (wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts). The cells had not formed close enough together yet, so the proteins were making their way through, causing inflammation. He called it “Allergic Colitis.” Now, I may have butchered that explanation a little bit (I’m no doctor), but you get the idea.  He also said that I should keep those things out of my diet until she is at least 8 months old, and then try adding in one thing at a time. But he believed by age 1, she should be able to even eat all of these things on her own.

So, my instructions were to stop eating wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, and nuts as long as I am nursing her and to give her a non dairy formula (we used Puramino with great results). Yep, you heard that right, no soy, wheat, eggs, dairy OR nuts! I had NO idea what I would eat, but a mother will do anything for their children, so I managed to do so.

After a couple weeks, she was a COMPLETELY different baby. She finally got some sleep, her diapers were normal, and she gained a POUND a week! Finally, at 2 months old, she made it over her birth weight! She was smiling and happy; it was just like night and day. Clearly what he said was spot on and did the trick! We were so happy and so thankful! I continued on this diet until 8 months, when I was able to add in all of those proteins with no problems.

Then Comes the Confusing Toddler Feeding

I waited until my daughter was a year old before trying to give her any of the foods listed, that caused her allergic colitis as a baby. Once that time rolled around, I started experimenting with many foods. She had diarrhea without fail with dairy, and off and on with everything else. I switched and tried different things, and finally thought I found what works for her. No major proteins, except wheat.

Except for the occasional bouts of diarrhea and constipation, she mostly seemed to be doing pretty good. And then one day she had a few episodes of diarrhea and then it just never stopped. For three weeks, she would go from 3-5 times a day (mostly 5). Her stools had mucous and chunks of undigested food, some were soft, some were runny; but literally, what she ate, was coming right back out again.

I tried putting her on a bland diet, and finally I decided I would try to take wheat out of her diet just in case while I was waiting to see her doctor. Sure enough, the diarrhea slowed down and then stopped. I told her doctor about it and he said he believed it was “Leaky gut.” Most doctors (especially GI doctors) will not use that term because of all the modern-day connotations attached to it, but he explained it the same way as Pediatric GI. Basically, her intestines still had not developed enough to digest those proteins yet, but he wanted her to see the GI doctor again to be sure.

So, back to GI we went. And sure enough, he had the same explanation. Only this time he said this may last for quite some time. Apparently children who have as severe of a reaction as my daughter sometimes need to be on a limited diet all the way up to age FIVE. Yep, THAT long without eating normal food!

Hopefully that does not end up being the case for her, but in the meantime, we have had some very helpful advice from our dietitian who works with Pediatric GI, and I have had to do A LOT of experimental cooking to find foods that my daughter actually likes.

If your child is having these problems, PLEASE ask your doctor about allergic colitis or leaky gut, whatever you want to call it! A simple diet change may help!  And if you need tips or recipes, please check out my recipes or lunch Ideas) that’s why I created this blog, and I am always adding more to it!

Let me know if this information is helpful for you! I want to hear from other parents who have similar experiences! Thanks!

 

 

The NEVER-ENDING Diaper Rash!!

Has your child ever experienced a diaper rash? Most babies will at some point experience a rash, for one reason or another, and they usually heal in a matter of hours or a couple days. For yeast rash, it may take a doctor’s visit and some prescription cream, but it should still clear up after a week or so, right?  Yeah, for the normal baby… Not for my daughter!

 

Diapers Problems from the Beginning

My daughter has had problems with rashes since she was in size 1 diapers.  Huggies gave her pretty bad rashes every time we used them. We tried numerous other kinds and she always ended up breaking out in a rash. Her doctor said that what she was experiencing was some type of allergy to the diapers because she was always able to wear the diapers for a few days before the redness started. And then the redness would turn into an actual rash, and it would continue to get worse until I changed the kind of diaper she was wearing.  We finally found Pampers Sensitive worked best with her.

And Pampers worked great until she was old enough to drink water and became a heavy wetter. Then they turned into a gross mess. The pee would basically “sweat” out of the diapers like sweat on a glass of ice tea and then they would leak.. and fall apart (literally).  So I tried a number of other diapers, but I just couldn’t find anything that didn’t make her break out; and I swore I would NEVER use cloth diapers.. they’re gross, a lot of work, and just weird!  So I just dealt with Pampers Sensitive, until she grew out of size 4. Yep, seriously, they don’t sell them past size 4. Why would you do that to me Pampers??!!  My only other option was the very expensive Gentle Care (which is basically the same diaper as Pampers Sensitive, but it is exclusive to Target and they actually sell size 5. But for the horrible quality that they were, the leaks we kept having, and the money we had to spend for them, they just were not a long term solution.

 

The Beginning of Cloth Diapers

So I finally had no choice but to start using cloth diapers. And if you are considering using them, I would HIGHLY recommend Wegreeco diapers from Amazon. They are way cheaper than the average cloth diapers, great quality in my opinion, and they work really great. Just DO NOT “strip” them. I’m sorry, but in my opinion, stripping diapers is nonsense.  Just use regular detergent that is free of fragrances and use enough to clean them and you really don’t need to do anything else.

Once I learned that, I realized that cloth diapers weren’t so bad after all. Just follow the manufacturers instructions. If you’re baby gets a rash, use diaper liners temporarily. You can buy those on Amazon too.  I didn’t use the liners and ended up with with cream on the diapers, so I tried washing them in hot water (against the manufacturing instructions). This completely ruined them as pocket diapers. But before I ruined them, they worked really well.  I also use Gerber bath rags for wipes. I just wet them with water and throw them in with the diaper inserts when I wash them. It makes everything easier and it is one less thing to wonder about when she gets a rash.

 

And the Rash Begins

I used cloth diapers on my daughter for a good few months with no major rash problems. She had some rashes here and there when she would get diarrhea from food (check out my blog on food allergies for more info on that), but they were always gone by the next day.  Then, one day, a rash started as usual from an episode of diarrhea and I treated it as I usually would. But it continued to get worse. Every day it got worse. The doctor prescribed Nystatin in case it was yeast, and we tried that for a few days along with oatmeal baths and constant diaper changes. And I had to revert back to disposables for a short time so I could cake on the cream.

But for most of the day, I just let her run around naked. I tried to keep her contained on the tile floor as much as possible for when she had an accident, and I just had to keep cleaning up after her; but I didn’t care as long as it worked.  The nurse told me that if it was yeast, the best thing I could do was let her run around naked. Well, it continued to get worse.

So we went in to see her doctor. He thought it was her diaper allergy acting up since I was using the disposables (Pampers Gentle Care, now called Pampers Pure), and that I should just use the cloth and put hydrocortisone cream on the rash to help it go away.  So we did that and continued to let her run around naked for a couple days.  It STILL got worse. The rash was so bad at this point that it started oozing. It was AWFUL! It brought me to tears to see something like that on my child!

So I took her in again and a different doctor told me it was definitely a very bad yeast infection and that I should try treating her with Monistat (please ask a doctor before trying this though, there is a right and wrong one to use, but I don’t remember exactly at this point). She told me the rash should clear up quickly with the Monistat and should be completely gone by day 3.  So I continued to let her run around naked and and I tried treating her with monistat for FIVE days. It improved some, but never went away. And then it started getting worse again.

Finally, her doctor saw us again and he basically said that although the other doctor meant well, it clearly was not a yeast infection because it was not in the folds of her skin. He told me that I did not use the hydrocortisone cream long enough because it takes at least a couple days of application before it would actually start to work. He also referred us to a dermatologist, but they were–of course–booked for over a month. I continued with the hydrocortisone cream, and I did see some improvement, but the rash still just would NOT go away!

A Useless Dermatologist Visit

After a month, we finally got in to see the dermatologist. He looked at the pictures I had taken of the rash, looked at the rash she still had at the time, and gave me his conclusion. Clearly, the problem was that I don’t change her diapers often enough. He said it was “Irritant Contact Dermatitis”, not yeast, or anything to be concerned about… I just needed to change her diapers more often.  “Seriously?” I said, “Did you not hear me say that I let her run around naked for 2 weeks??  I change her VERY often! Half the time she is not even wet, or she is barely wet when I change her!” But, nope, that wasn’t good enough. Clearly, she just needed more diaper changes. And that’s all I got out of that visit. That and the fact that this was the worst rash he had ever seen. Apparently I am the worst diaper changer ever!

 

Finally an Answer!!

So I called the nurse at my daughter’s doctor’s office and told her how the appointment went.  She was just about as frustrated as I was and relayed it to the doctor, who penciled me in for another appointment.  He took another look at the rash and again said that it seems like an allergic reaction to him.  He told me to stop using disposables altogether, but I explained to him that the cream will mess up cloth diapers (I had kind of already messed them up at this point). And he gave me this confused look and said, “Wait, are you not using cotton diapers?” So I explained to him that most diapers are not really cotton anymore, they are made of bamboo and all sorts of other materials so they can be thin and still absorbent.  So he told me to try cotton ONLY.

Well, I already had the pocket diapers and there was NO WAY I was going to buy a whole new set of diapers, so I just went to Walmart and bought some Gerber 100% cotton prefold diapers.  I placed them in the diapers (not in the pocket, just laying on the diaper). I also started using Lanolin as a barrier cream because it easily washes out of cotton diapers if you wash them in hot water.

At this point, after THREE months of dealing with this horrible, never-ending rash and no answers.. FINALLY it went away!!  We actually had a party celebrating the end of her rash (I’m not kidding). It was such a relief!  So, it turns out, her doctor was right the whole time. It WAS a skin allergy.

We later saw an allergy doctor, who after testing confirmed that my daughter has 4 skin allergies, to 2 preservatives, a topical antibiotic, and “fragrance.”  As it turns out, Pampers “Pure” is not so pure after all. They put fragrance on the inside of the diaper that touches the skin. Not only was that aggravating her, but her shampoo had fragrance and one of the preservatives, and the diaper rash creams apparently mask the fragrance under different names (even the “all-natural” or “organic” ones that we tried).  Now it all made sense. Everything we were using was constantly causing an allergic reaction, and the more things we used (Pampers, rash cream, shampoo), the worse it became.

Now, we only use the cotton inserts during the day. I just fold them in the opposite direction of the actual folds and set them in the diapers. It works great. We have yet to have another rash at all, and these are actually WAY easier to care for than the normal cloth diapers. I wash the inserts and rags that I use as wipes separate from the covers so I can wash them in hot water.  I use Arm & Hammer Sensitive laundry detergent, which has worked the best in my experience. Even though the cotton inserts are bigger and bulkier, my daughter doesn’t mind them and I rarely have leaks anymore; but most importantly we are rash free!!

At night we use Honest diapers. Initially, I thought these were just a Hollywood gimmick. But we KEPT having leaks at night with cotton diapers, no matter what kind or how we used them. So, I went out and tried the ONE type of diaper that I had not tried yet: Honest. And to my utter surprise, these are amazing! They do not bother her skin, since they are free of all preservatives and fragrances (and even plastics, if you are one of those moms that likes things to be “all-natural”).  And they look super cute! Not to mention, they are WAY better quality than Pampers anyway.  The only downside is the price. They are worth every penny by all accounts, but they are very expensive. Some people may be able to buy in bundles with wipes and have significant savings, but we can’t because my daughter is sensitive to the wipes (flower extracts=fragrance for her). So, we just use them at night. But I will HIGHLY recommend giving Honest diapers a try if your little one has rash problems.

 

Conclusion

If your baby has a rash that just will NOT go away, maybe it is a skin allergy.  Ask your doctor, of course, but try cotton inserts and/or Honest diapers. The inserts are cheap at Walmart, and may be a simple solution. If not, you won’t lose much.  If anything you’ve read here was helpful for you, please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!