colicky baby

EndoMune Interview: Dr. Josephine Ruiz-Healy

This week we’re kicking off an ongoing series of interviews with noted health care experts who consider good gut health essential in treating a wide variety of health issues.

Our first interview with Dr. Josephine Ruiz-Healy discusses the various gut health benefits probiotics provide children. Dr. Ruiz-Healy is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at San Antonio. In private practice for two decades in San Antonio, she is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Integrative Holistic Medicine.

A relatively recent trend in American medical circles, integrative medicine focuses on treating the mind, body and spirit – at the same time by using the best of conventional and alternative therapies to facilitate the body’s innate healing responses, naturally and effectively.

Dr. Ruiz-Healy discusses how probiotics, good gut health and other integrative health tips can help babies get started on the right foot, along with avoiding antibiotics as often as possible.

Recent studies have reported mixed results about probiotics being an effective treatment for colic. Have you found probiotics to be helpful?

There has been mixed results in limited studies. The studies themselves show wide variability in their designs and parameters to offer definite results. However, it is a fact that infants with colic have a different intestinal microbiota than their “non-colicky” counterparts. Colicky infants have mainly coliforms that are not well colonized with Lactobacillus.

A different pattern is also seen in babies not colonized at birth who are born via Caesarean section and infants who are not breast-fed. We find the use of probiotics to be beneficial in some of our colicky babies who have these commonalities. Choosing the right probiotic is important. Not all are created equal and they all have different functions.

Multivitamins can cause constipation for some kids. Can probiotics and a healthy diet help?

We try not to use multivitamins that have iron if we do not need to supplement for this deficiency. But, without a doubt, trying to eliminate processed foods and over-cooked foods that indeed change your microbiota and substituting them with foods that have their own healthy biofilm and increasing their water consumption certainly change the microflora.

How do children benefit most from taking a probiotic?

Children are living in a toxic “artificial” environment now. That toxicity is interpreted by many scared parents as “too many germs” and not realizing we are more bacteria than human cells.

We try to eliminate everything that seems “contaminated.” We sterilize our homes but our children attend day cares where they get sick. Also, that illness in many instances is treated with antibiotics regardless if it is warranted or not, and kills the good bacteria in our gut further compromising our immunity.

Probiotics help fill that void we have because of life in the 21st century. A good blend of live probiotics seems essential to protect our kids and help them develop and maintain a healthy immune system.

What does good gut health mean for young children?

Good gut health translates to a good immunity.

There is research ongoing that the microbiota in infants is different for infants who develop allergic diseases, at all system levels. This is influenced by many external factors. We can change some of these factors by keeping, via the adequate mix of probiotics, a healthy gut microbiota.

When do you prescribe a probiotic to a young patient?

We recommend probiotics to infants who are bottle-fed, breast-fed infants whose mothers are on antibiotics or do not plan to breastfeed long, infants entering day care and fussy colicky infants who have no other underlying problems. It is essential children have a healthy gut microbiota before age 2!

Physicians are finally realizing the overprescribing of antibiotics is a serious health problem, although certain conditions require them. How do you advise parents?

Whenever we have children on antibiotics, we recommend probiotics rich in S. boulardi and we recommend they stay on them for at least a month before they change to a different mix of probiotics.

What other integrative health tips can you suggest to parents wanting to bolster their child’s gut health in addition to probiotics?

  • Avoid toxins!
  • Having parents understand that some fever is good for you and it is not a disease, and physicians taking the time to explain why not every time a child gets sick he/she needs antibiotics.
  • Give them vitamins every day.
  • Serve kids at least 6 servings per day of veggies and fruit, because it is the junk and processed foods that hurt them.
  • Decrease milk products.
  • Make kids get outside and play everyday.
  • Do not apply sunblock every time a kid goes outside. Let them get sunblock-free sun for at least 10 minutes.
  • Limit the time playing video games and watching TV.

How to treat colic: 10 ways to calm your baby naturally and safely

endomune-baby colic copyOne of the most helpless feelings a new mom experiences is watching her newborn baby screaming at the top of his or her lungs inconsolably for hours that feel like an eternity, usually after feeding.

You read all the books and watched all the videos you could…but nothing really prepared you for how to treat colic in your otherwise healthy and happy baby.

All babies cry a great deal during the first few months, but how do you know when it’s time to worry? A rule of thumb for determining the difference between emotional crying and unexplainable outbursts of crying connected to colic, health experts say, is all about the “rule of threes.” For a baby to be diagnosed as colicky, he or she must cry for a minimum of three hours, at least three days a week, starting in the first three weeks of life.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. Some pediatric experts are concerned prolonged bouts of crying may affect a baby’s development, too.

Other concerns: Moms may be worsening the problem by overfeeding their babies or exposing them to the flood of emotions they’re feeling, but not doing a good job of shielding, from their newborn.

The good news for moms is that most babies grow out of their colicky ways by the time they’re 6 months old. But, how to treat colic shouldn’t be a waiting game, as there are plenty of ways to end it, safely and effectively.

Here are 10 ways to treat colic and help you and your baby get the rest and relaxation both of you need.

1. Modify your baby’s diet by eliminating irritating foods from your own diet — caffeine, dairy products and spicy cuisine — if you’re breastfeeding.

2. When you feed your colicky baby, make sure to hold that noisy bundle of joy as upright as possible. (This tip can reduce your baby’s risks of heartburn, too.)

3. Introduce soothing sounds like a fan, white-noise machine or a dryer to your baby’s environment.

4. Singing quietly to your baby not only soothes your baby but also lightens your mood.

5. Has your baby used a pacifier? Even breastfed babies can benefit from sucking on a pacifier to calm down.

6. The gentle motion your crying baby feels when taking a drive in a moving car can soothe his or her bad mood.

7. Walk away from your crying, colicky baby for a few minutes. You’ll be a better parent and able to handle those loud emotional cries from your stressed baby if you can take a short break.

8. Schedule break time from a trusted friend or family to give you a brief, calming respite.

9. Swaddling your baby (wrapping your infant snugly in a blanket to mimic the warmth of the womb) before putting him or her to bed may help them stay asleep.

10. Studies have shown treating your colicky baby with a multi-species probiotic containing 5-10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day may be beneficial. A 2007 study concluded babies treated with a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior cried about 66 percent less than those given simethicone, a drug that reduces gas.

How to treat colic isn’t a mystery, and these 10 tips should help provide you and your baby some much-needed relief.

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