Effects of PPIs - A mother's warning story
"Firstly Philippa, before I start my story I want to thank you so much for all that you do. Your work is so important and I just wish, I had found you years ago when both my family was going through absolute hell with no light at the end of the tunnel.
When my son was born, I was worried he was not latching correctly as I was very sore and it didn’t seem right. However, he did not have any reflux or major crying episodes. The nurses advised me that I should top up with formula “just in case my baby wasn’t getting enough” even though he seemed to be getting enough colostrum and was sleeping fine. Going home they advised me to continue giving “top ups” just in case, which I naively followed.
At two weeks old, it all kicked off with screaming and roaring for hours on end. The only time our little boy slept was from pure exhaustion - only to start all over again two hours later. When he was awake he was feeding up to one full hour out of pure comfort, sometimes to the point he would puke it all up and we would start all over again. It absolutely horrifies me now how much milk I thought a tiny baby needed. I wasn’t pumping yet so I could not determine how much breast milk he was getting from me, followed by little top ups of formula.
Days went into weeks and things started to become a blur of severe sleep deprivation. A public health nurse did a standard house call, and when I asked why my nipples were bleeding and why it was so sore, I was told “you’re doing great. Your son is thriving and gaining significant weight”. After reading some articles on yet another sleepless night I came to the conclusion that his symptoms were typical of silent reflux. From what I read it was almost normalized for babies to have silent reflux,
which included hours of inconsolable crying, chewing hands, always seemingly hungry and hiccups all the of time. He was also arching backwards and writhing and wriggling. I went to the GP and told her all of these symptoms and asked if there was anyway that he can be tested to find the cause. I was told “there is no cause and it’s something babies will grow out of in time.” Give him 7mg of Losec (a Proton Pump Inhibitor) to help reduce the reflux.
The reflux medicine did seem to help initially. Things seemed to improve slightly for a short few weeks, although looking back now I realized that during that time my diet also changed to predominantly dairy. Over the next few weeks, he got progressively worse and with that his medication was increased.
I was again advised to switch to formula, so my husband could help. I was also advised to give solids early at four months, which now absolutely horrifies me. To make things worse, for weaning onto solids, I decided to follow a very well known chef Annabel karmel, which is predominately dairy based. The ages of 9- 13 months were the absolute worst. He was so uncomfortable from morning until night, always drooling, woke up every single hour on the hour. He was so uncomfortable he would not go to anybody and was glued to me at all times day and night...
At 13 months I knew I had to do something, and that the little sleep he was getting must be having a negative impact on his development. I decided it was time to start researching on silent reflux and the effects on sleep. I miraculously came across a professional that told me she was 99% certain my son had dairy intolerance and to remove it all from his diet. I was completely dumbfounded and overwhelmed with mom guilt. I had so many questions, and struggled to come to terms with how I did not see this for myself, and so perplexed of how many medical practitioners also missed this.
Within two weeks I saw a dramatic difference. My son actually started sleeping around 3-4 hours at a time. Over time we realized he was reacting to more than just dairy. We also needed to remove eggs, and nuts.
We attempted to remove the Losec, but again we were faced with the acid battle, so decided to leave it for another six months, followed by another six months. Unfortunately the doctors who had prescribed this medicine did not give any guidance of how to deal with this acid spike, or alternatives to help us through it.
After two years, I realized that my son was not getting any better, and in fact he seemed to be getting much worse. The list of intolerances increased and he could not tolerate dairy, gluten, eggs, nuts, seeds, any high salicylates foods such as coconuts, tomatoes, raisins, dates etc. He was not growing in height or weight, and was a terrible sleeper. He was extremely cranky and had clear delays in gross motor skills, as well as fine motor skills. To top it off he was still having severe episodes of stomach pain/reflux, which could last up to a full hour at night.
We finally decided enough was enough, and we would take him off all medication. We worked through the acid battle, decreasing 1mg every few days, and gave him gripe water on occasions. I decided to take my son’s health into my own hands while deep diving into tonnes of research. I found two of the best practitioners in Singapore, a naturopath and a gut specialist.
It was the gut specialist who told me that Losec and other PPI’s are not FDA approved for infants and toddlers. She was horrified of the dosage my child had been prescribed. She knew immediately that he was likely suffering from side effects of this medication, which included yeast infections (a stool analysis confirmed he had significant yeast overgrowth and malabsorption of key nutrients). He had extremely low levels of zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium despite having a diet rich in all of these. I was to find out that these medicines weaken the very thing our stomachs were designed to do, that is its ability to digest and absorb food, including key nutrients.
PPIs inhibit gastric acid secretion, resulting in reduced acid in the stomach (hypochlorhydria). It also plays an important role in reducing harmful bacteria that we might ingest from our food or other environment contaminants. It has been outlined in a number of key research, that low stomach acid actually increased risk of infections from toxic bacteria including E-coli, Salmonella and others. My son was extremely ill from Gastro on several occasions and was almost hospitalized from salmonella.
Aside from all of the above side affects, our most horrifying discovery was that my son had extreme high levels of aluminum in his system. After the blood test confirming he was deficient in so many minerals we decided to investigate further to see what was going on in relation to toxic heavy metals. We did a hair elements test, which showed that his aluminum levels were off the charts and test analysis states this high level could be caused by long term use of PPI’s.
Unfortunately for children of this age it is not possible to do an aggressive detox. We had to take a slow approach. After ten months we have brought his levels down dramatically but have at least another year before they are within normal range. Unfortunately this high level of aluminum has had an effect on his speech development and articulation. He is currently seeing a speech and language therapist and we are up against time. As typically you have until age six to correct any speech errors. We also need to work closely with a practitioner to do his blood tests to ensure that his body is not using up his zinc to detox the aluminum. Low levels of zinc also present further issues, which drive up copper levels.
The heartbreaking fact about our story is that, I strongly believe that all of this hardship for my little boy could of been entirely, naturally prevented, by managing what Philippa (BabyCues) refer to as Digestive Overload - without giving up breastfeeding and using medication. It breaks my heart when I come across very similar stories of babies, one-and-a-half year old's and even two years old still on these medications, which are preventing their children from healing naturally.
Sorry for this very long story, however I think its important to share. If I can prevent only one baby going through what my son has been through it would be fantastic! I really wish there were more people like Philippa to guide us through this epidemic. To ensure our babies stay happy, healthy, and not over medicated causing further issues down the line."
If you know of someone that might like this article, please like and share the love via the social grey buttons.