This blog is NOT medical advice. Please consult a doctor before attempting anything you read here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Probiotics and Infants

Probiotic organisms are live microorganisms that are thought to be beneficial to the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

My son, not being able to breastfeed after his tongue and lip tie revision, completely refused the breast (even with an SNS). My boobs were not responding to a Medela Symphony and a concoction of herbs like fenugreek. My milk supply is now almost non-existant. We used all my stored milk, and also had a milk donations, but it wasn't enough, so I had to turn to formula or let my son starve.
I was worried. We don't vaccinate, and I had hoped breastfeeding could help them build an immunity to diseases (and shedding vaccines). I talked to a friend who suggested probiotics. So I began to research.

From my blog post about tongue ties, I mentioned how a baby's gut natures with sucking. However, if they cannot properly suckle, their guts are damaged. Yes, your 100% breastfed baby's gut may be damaged if they have a tie.
Lactation Consultants for a long time would say that breastfed babies don't have to poop every day or two days. That going once a week is fine because they use up everything in breastmilk. This is NOT TRUE. Part of having a healthy gut is having a bowel movement. It's like saying you're completely dehydrated and drink water. You will still pee it out. You wouldn't stop because you needed all the water. Same goes for breastfed infants. If they don't go every other day or sooner, they probably have gut damage.

Now, formula fed babies are different. They already have gut damage from not having straight breastmilk. Their flora is completely different. They don't have the benefits of good bacteria like breast milk has. They need probiotics not only to help their gut, but to help create an immunity that a breastfed baby gets.

Probiotics can be given to a baby straight from birth. Good bacteria will heal the gut, and can possibly fix many newborn problems:
- It can prevent colic. In a double-blind study, they had probiotics in formula to one group of babies and regular formula to another. There was a SIGNIFICANT decrease of colic in the group with probiotics.
- Less food allergies by improving digestion, and non-allergy types of food intolerance caused by imbalances in the normal intestinal flora.
- Good bacteria can help promote a healthier immunity leading to less colds.
- Good flora decreases constipation. Babies will be more regular as their guts are healthier.
- It has been shown to decrease Eczema.
- It can help counter the damage stress puts on the gut.

So how do you give your baby probiotics? They have drops, powder, and chewables available for infants and kids. Whatever you do, KEEP THEM REFRIGERATED. Probiotics are LIVE bacteria. Refrigerating them keeps them alive. And DO NOT BUY DROPS OR POWDER PROBIOTICS IF THEY'RE NOT REFRIGERATED. Chewable tabs are fine, but refrigerate as soon as you open them.

Babies and kids to 4 years old need about 4 billion CFU per day. 3-5 billion is best. So you can pretty much go anywhere and find low dosage probiotics. As long as its fine enough to mix into a drink, it's fine.
Adults need about 25 billion CFU. This is way too much for kids and can make them sick. Your best bet for kids are the $40 kid drops or powder. Or if you are on a budget like me, you crush up one 1.5 billion CFU chewable pills twice a day crushed to a fine powder into a bottle of formula or breastmilk (or chocolate milk like my 2 year old gets).

It's super easy, and cheap to keep your child's gut healthy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

MTHFR and Our Journey with a Lip Tie/Tongue Tie Revision

(This is my tongue tie. It pulls my front teeth in, and I needed speech therapy in Kindergarden. More than half of the population has some sort of a tie. It's not normal, it's a birth defect). 

**This is *my* encounter with Lip and Tongue ties. 99.9% of babies who get them revised nurse again**

MTHFR is a gene mutation that about 40% of the population has. Normally it does not cause much trouble if it is heterozygous (think of it as a two-part gene. Heterozygous means only one side, homozygous meaning two). Homozygous is normally the one that causes the most problem (miscarriages, birth defects, etc), but the single variation of it can do so as well (although not as common).

What does MTHFR do? It can cause MANY issues, but it starts by making your body become deficient in various vitamins (some moms can lack folic acid, some Vitamin B, some all! There's a huge variation), so these Moms need more specialized prenatals than the standard ones they're given. Lack of these can case birth defects. The one in specific this blog post is about are lip ties and tongue ties. 

If you open your mouth and lift your tongue, quite possibly you have a little piece of skin holding your tongue. It's very common, but it is a BIRTH DEFECT. Pull up your upper lip. You might have one there too. Chances are, if you have a lip tie, you more than likely have a tongue tie. But if you have a tongue tie, you might not have a lip tie. 

(before, tongue can hardly move and after the revision, full function)

My first child, Aeri, had a hard time latching on to breastfeed at birth. She had a 4th percentile head, and we contributed that to why the latch was not great. We used a nipple shield until she was about 7 weeks old, when we weaned her from it straight to the breast. She stopped gaining weight at a very fast pace, but we contributed that to her weight finally slowing down instead of being from a slight problem with milk transfer. We have had no other problems breastfeeding, and she is deciding whether to wean or not today at almost 28 months old. 
She had horrible colic, and reflux. She needed to take Zantac for a year, and had a horrible time with solids. She was not diagnosed with a level 2 tongue tie until just recently. But we will bring her to speech therapy to learn to compensate for the tie, as it is messing with her speech. This is the same route my parents chose with me, and one day, when I find a doctor who will do so, I hope to get mine cut. 

My second child, Leo, was not so lucky. Just like Aeri, he could not latch once my milk came in (and we thought it was his 1st percentile head), so we used a nipple shield until 5 weeks. He started gaining weight rapidly, but once my milk was established, he lost weight fast! He started to not nurse as long (5 minutes was common for both kids to nurse), and he started giving up after the initial letdown. He had horrible reflux that was diagnosed G.E.R.D at his 8 week baby checkup. He was put on Zantac and Gripe Water.
Being almost 2lbs lighter than he was a month ago, I panicked and began to research and came across a Tongue Tie Support Group. And after posting several photos and videos, a few ILCBC Lactation Consultants recommended he get evaluated for a revision of his level 3 lip tie and possible tongue tie (basically just go get the ties cut). 
We got the referral and went to get it done. When the doctor who was going to do the procedure looked, he saw that Leo had a severe posterior tongue tie and called in 4 other doctors. They tried to see if he could stick his tongue out or touch the top of his mouth, but no, he couldn't do any of those. So he got both his tongue and lip tie cut. 

(Top left: Immediately after

Top right: 4 hours post op
Middle left: 32 hours post op
Middle right: 91 hours post op

Bottom: 1 week, 1 day post op)

Suddenly my son could move his tongue. However, due to being so tied down, he had to relearn to suckle again. He was not even able to suck on a bottle. We had to exercise his tongue by pushing the tongue down and outwards as his tongue would not lay down. Imagine being tied down your whole life and trying to get up. Suddenly, those ropes are cut. You go where you were trying to the whole time. That is what has happened to his tongue. 

He has not relearned to breastfeed (which happens in like .1% of revised babies), but had we not fixed his, he would have had thousands of dollars in orthodonic surgeries straightening teeth, fixing pallets, fixing the jaw, etc. There are no regrets. 

Some more problems with tip and tongue ties if not treated:
- Ties can cause teeth coming in crooked, delayed speech/mispronouncing of words, decay at the teeth in the top, and depending on the severity, risk of splitting the pallet right open.
- Most ties don't cause problems. But the ones that do can cause shallow latch (moms that complain babies never could latch), bad transfer of milk (babies losing weight becoming failure to thrive), and because of bad transfer of milk, the milk supply dries (the moms that complain their milk dried up at 3 months).
- They can cause pain on the nipples, cause babies to click and lose suction, and can get them to swallow air giving reflux and colic symptoms.
- Tongue Tied Babies AND adults normally choke on their own spit or medicine often as well.
- Suckling causes the gut to work more efficiently. And if they're not suckling properly, they're damaging their guts.

We are two weeks post op, and hes fully healed. If we ever have another child, we'll be looking for this immediately. Also, will be taking vitamins catering to my body's deficiencies to avoid another problem like this.