Could an Elimination Diet Prevent Colic?
When my second daughter was a baby, she had severe colic.
For over three months straight, she cried non-stop. Starting when she was just minutes old, she began spitting up and didn't stop. Every time I fed her, she spit up violently.
Although she gained enough weight that our doctor wasn't too concerned about her throwing up so much, it was obvious she was in pain, and I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without preparing for a landslide of baby vomit. It was rough.
I finally took to experimenting with the food I was eating to see if it would help ease her vomiting and crying. Eventually, through trial and error, I found that dairy, caffeine, and seeded fruit (like raspberries) made her much, much worse.
Heather Neal, a registered dietitian and writer for Babble, is another mother who dealt with colic when her son was a baby, eventually discovering that her son suffered from milk and soy allergies, allergic colitis, and food-protein induced enterocolitis that were causing silent reflux. Eventually, with medication and diet changes, Neal and her husband were able to help their son, but all of their struggles came with a price: they couldn't bring themselves to have another baby.
“Because ‘colic' (and all that nasty little word entails) is exactly what made us wait four years to have another baby,” Neal wrote. “The fear of going through it all again was too much to handle right away. We needed time to recover.”
Four years later, when Neal did get pregnant with her second baby, she decided to try an elimination diet during her pregnancy to try to eliminate some of the common allergy triggers that can lead a baby to have reflux, such as dairy, wheat, and soy. “By eliminating those foods before I deliver, I will have cleared the proteins out of my body, and therefore, my … baby will have ‘clean' milk from the get-go,” Neal explained. “If we're fortunate and all the stars align and this baby doesn't have colic, we can introduce the foods back in and see what happens, instead of waiting to see if the baby has colic, then clearing my system, then clearing the baby's system.”
So can an elimination diet during pregnancy actually work? Science says “probably not.”
A study in Pediatrics last year found that in looking at cow's milk allergies specifically, especially in babies who had siblings with milk allergies, actually found that the risk of developing cow's milk allergies, based on the level of antigens in the babies, increased when their mothers eliminated dairy from their pregnancy diets.
But the authors did note that because those infants were “high risk” to begin with because of family history, it may have skewed the results. Another study, done in 1992, also found that mothers who followed a diet free of eggs and cow's milk during pregnancy in an attempt to reduce egg allergies in their children didn't work either.
“This long-term follow-up confirms our previous findings that maternal elimination diet during late pregnancy does not prevent the development of allergic disease in the genetically predisposed child,” the study's author concluded.
It looks like the jury will remain out on this one, but having experienced a child with colic, I can certainly empathize with trying to do everything in your power to prevent it from ever happening again.
What do you think? Would you try an elimination diet to prevent colic?