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Why My Child Was Failure to Thrive

Updated on September 11, 2015

My Child's Failure to Thrive

When my baby was born we ended up having antibiotics, pethidine and oxytocinin. He was a very cranky irritable baby who only slept 12 hours a day instead of the normal 16 to 20 hours a day for a newborn baby. He was tongue tied and did not feed well and had his tongue tie snipped at 2 days only. Unfortunately his tongue tie was not cut sufficiently and he struggled to get enough milk and was very cranky, windy and had reflux. He would end up feeding, get exhausted, fall asleep, then wake up and try feeding again because he was still hungry 15 minutes later. It would take over an hour to feed him once. My milk supply dwindled and he got severely dehydrated at 10 days old and ended up having to give him formula to compensate. The midwife did not express concern that he was not gaining weight. He did not gain weight until we started topping up with formula. I ended up feeding, expressing and topping up with formula. The plunket (baby) nurse that visited tried to get me into a depression group, but I wasn't depressed just exhausted, so said no. I went to lactation consultant who gave no useful advice. I ended up at a mothering group who measured how much milk I was producing. They were not helpful and recommended that I stop feeding him and give him formula. He did not feed well even on a bottle and made a clicking sound when I fed him on the bottle, which I now know was due to being tongue tied. A different plunket nurse came the next time and referred me to a knowledgeable lactation consultant that said he was still tongue tied. At six weeks his tongue tie was snipped again and it took 3 months of hard work and perserverance to get my milk supply up again so he breastfeed exclusively.

When he was born he was around the 50th percentile line (average). Over time he gradually lost weight. When he was weaned at around 1 year old he developed eczema. After a bout of hand foot and mouth he had eczema from head to toe. We removed gluten, dairy and soy to try to improve his eczema. By age two years old he was anorexic thin, his arms became excessively hairy due to low body fat, he was down to the 2nd percentile line on the growth curve at his plunket visit yet the plunket nurse assured me that he was in proportion so he was fine. I had no idea as a first time mother if this was normal or not. He ended up seeing a paediatrician when he was two years old because he was reacting to loud noises. We were there for over one hour discussing all his others issues with little reference to his reaction to loud noises. By this stage he had issues with eczema, speech delay, food allergies and poor growth. He also had a bloated tummy and looked like a poster celiac child. He would eat hardly anything unless it was starchy or sugary. He would have tantrums for no reason partly because he was anaemic. He has had diarrhoea since he was a baby. He would not sleep very well and wake up several times in the night. He had very little energy and would not do much physical activity. When he was little we noticed he would get a rash on his chest when given food colourings and liquid paracetamol.

The paediatrician tested him for the anaphylactic food allergies (IgE antibodies) and iron. We tried to give him gluten again to get him tested for cealiac disease. We needed to give him gluten for 6 weeks to do the celiac test. We couldn't handle giving him gluten for more than 4 weeks because his eating, eczema and behaviour was so bad, his sleeping got even worse and he was thrashing around and falling out of bed and not getting enough sleep.

Why is my child failure to thrive and what to do about it?

Why is my child failure to thrive? After seeing the paediatrician and having him test negative to celiacs and anaphylactic food allergies we still didn't know why he wasn't growing. I had done a lot of researching eczema on the internet and had found a book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by Natasha McBride. When we saw the paediatrician he was very dismissive of the idea that he had any digestive or leaky gut issues even though he had a very bloated stomach and was starving himself. The paediatrician visit had made us feel like we were just bad parents who weren't able to get our child to eat and were excluding vital nutrients by removing gluten and dairy from his diet.

By this stage we had nothing to lose since he hadn't tested positive to anything except anaemia. We decided to try the GAPS diet since it is written by Neurologist who had a child with autism and wasn't prepared to accept the lifelong condition. She managed to cure her son of his digestive issues and weakened immune system using a modified Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) devised by Elaine GottSchall to treat children with cealiac disease.

The diet excludes difficult to digest carbohydrates than encourage growth of bad bugs in your digestive tract. These bad bugs produce toxic chemical compounds and also cause leaky gut which allows partially digested food and toxic chemicals into your tissues .We used the specific section on getting your child to eat to start to get him to eat again. The introduction diet allows the leaky gut to start healing. Taking probiotics helps repopulate the gut with good bacteria.

We modified the diet to exclude dairy, tomatoes and acidic fruit. Fruit seemed to cause him problems and flair up his eczema due to either histamines or salicylates or acicity or high sugar. Salicylates can cause problems due to leaky gut and those with genetic issues with detoxification (MTHFR gene), addition of Epsom salt baths helps improve the metabolic pathway for detoxification function correctly.

The diet improved his anaemia and tantrums. The eczema took a bit longer to clear after reducing salicylates. His obsessive compulsiveness has gradually reduced in severity over 1 1/2 years. He eats very well now since he no longer has a sore stomach all the time, he is over the 25th percentile for height and weight again and improving constantly. His stomach is no longer bloated and he does not get eczema as long as he doesn't have dairy and high histamine or salicylate/acidic fruit. He is now a normal, healthy, happy, well behaved, active child who sleeps very well.

We still don't know if he has food allergies (IgG antibodies) or celiac disease. There is a doctor in New Zealand Dr Rodney Ford that has treated thousands of people for non-celiac gluten intolerance that have cealiac like symptoms and test negative for cealiac disease. Our son fits this criteria. The GAPS diet claims to heal a food allergies and celiac disease.

What caused my sons failure to thrive?

Leaky Gut & Food Intolerances

I think that I probably had some leaky gut issues before he was born and I didn't tolerate gluten and dairy well. I had eliminated gluten and dairy and ate following a paleo like diet before I knew what a paleo diet was and felt great. I ate gluten and dairy when I was pregnant in case I was missing out on some nutrients and while I was pregnant I didn't feel as bad consuming these foods. I wish I hadn't eaten gluten and dairy while I was pregnant. Some of my family members also do not do well on gluten and gluten can contribute to leaky gut.

Toxic Chemical Load

We live in an increasingly toxic world. The food we eat is contaminated with herbicides and pesticides, the water we drink is often polluted, then treated with chlorine and often fluoride, The first born child usually gets the accumulated toxic chemical load from the mother.


My son and I received antibiotics before he was born so he did not get any beneficial microorganisms when born or after from me and it is possible he picked up some particularly nasty micro-organisms from the hospital where he was born or shortly thereafter. Antibiotics selectively kill bacteria so it is also likely the a yeast overgrowth occurs after antibiotic use as all the beneficial bacteria that keep yeast in check are wiped out.

Chemicals During Delivery

I had synthetic oxytocin and pethidine during labour, these drugs are not without side effects to the baby. The additives and preservatives in these drugs may also have an effect on the baby.

Modern Diet

The modern diet is heavily reliant on processed, refined foods that have less nutrients and more empty calories than is necessary to maintain optimum health. The starchy, difficult to digest foods feed the overgrowth of micro-organisms in the small intestine SIBO and contribute to leaky gut. These micro-organisms produce a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

Modern Food Processing Methods

Food production relies heavily on nitrogen and phosphorous based fertiliser which stimulate growth, but do not contain trace minerals which are essential for health. Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are used during production. The effect of the cocktail of chemicals on the human body has not been established. Glyphosphate/Roundup is in the spotlight at the moment because glyphosphate kills plants (except the GMO crops that are resistant) and microorganism in your gut and contribute to leaky gut.


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