You already know there are several different GI problems that commonly affect people with ASD so perhaps we should explore some of the most common ones in more detail in case your child has any of them.
Does your baby cry inconsolably, refuse the bottle or breast and then cry for food again only to pull away when it is given? Or belch, burp or vomit when eating? Or wake in the night with tummy pains? Or suddenly become very irritable or aggressive for no apparent cause?
Although such symptoms may have been dismissed as colic in the past it is now believed that at least some cases of unexplained, inconsolable crying may actually be due to gastroesophageal reflux (GER). This often affects babies (most of whom outgrow it by the time they are 12 months old) but is also relatively common amongst toddlers and children with ASD.
GER occurs when the muscle at the entrance to the stomach fails to keep the stomach contents in the stomach – causing the excruciating pain that adults call heartburn but it can also cause other symptoms like coughing or wheezing as well as failure to gain adequate weight and bad breath.
If you think that your child is suffering in this way do consult your doctor or pediatrician as soon as you can.
Ideas to help:
If the infant is still nursing:
- Milk acts as a natural antacid so the baby might want to eat frequently. That can cause problems as reflux can worsen if he is overfull.
- Other babies quickly learn that eating causes pain and so they refuse to nurse.
- To help overcome this try: varying positions, feeding while the baby sleep, or walking while nursing.
See: Breastfeeding the Baby with Gastroesophageal Reflux by Laura Barmby for more details.
- Warm baths and infant massage may help to calm a distraught baby or toddler.
- Give smaller meals more frequently so that the child doesn’t get over-full.
- Avoid food for at least two or three hours before lying down.
- Avoid tight clothing around the waist.
- Diet plays a major part in reflux so try using a diet aimed at people with GERD, many of which can be found on the internet.
Now though to turn our attention to two interlinked conditions. First Candida albicans (also known as thrush), a fungal infection. This is known to affect many people with autism.
- A history of baby thrush, diaper rash or cradle cap.
- Skin rashes.
- A high-sugar diet – as that can weaken the immune system.
- Oral thrush (a white film in mouth or on lips or tongue)
- Colicky for more than 3 months.
- Symptoms worse on damp days.
- Recurrent ear problems.
- The repeated use of antibiotics which kill off all the bacteria (both the bad and the good) that we need to keep the digestive system functioning correctly.
- Continuing constipation.
For a free dietary guide to beating candida see: http://www.thecandidadiet.com
Next to Leaky Gut – a condition in which the wall of the gut is more permeable than it should be. This causes toxins get into the body where they wreak havoc and is implicated in a range of symptoms which include:
- Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Seasonal allergies or asthma.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Auto immune diseases such as celiac disease.
- Brain fog.
- Skin rashes.
- Muscle cramps and pains.
It can be triggered by a number of factors including candida, various toxins, stress, dysbiosis (an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut) as well as some foods like gluten, dairy and sugar.
How to help:
- Avoid gut-irritating foods by changing your diet – see The Myers elimination diet.
- Use a good probiotic to support the good bacteria in the gut.
- Eat foods that will reduce inflammation and help the gut heal. This includes Omega-3 fatty acids found in large quantities in wild-caught fish, pastured/free-range eggs, and free range animals – although you could use a good quality fish oil supplement instead.
For more ideas see 4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut.
Does your child have such problems? If so please share your experiences and any effective tips that you have found.