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Underweight, failure to thrive, anemia

Our son is 12 years old and has had a complicated medical history thus far. He is currently diagnosed with a seizure disorder, failure to thrive, anemia, severe constipation and a possible mitochondrial disease.  His current height and weight are 4'7 and 64lbs.  From birth he has had a "milk sensitivity" (this is what the Ped. GI dr. said), whenever he drinks too much milk and/or eats too much ice cream, yogurt, etc. he gets blood in his stools and sometimes mucus.  It also aggravates the constipation issue.  He currently takes Colace (100mg.-1x/day) and Dulcolax (10mg./1x/day and on weekends it increases to 20mg./10mg am and 10mg pm).  He is also on Keppra and Lamictal for seizure control.  His other meds include Albuterol, Rhinocort, and Allegra.
We are concerned with our son's weight and, of course, other medical problems.  However, the GI doc. says we are doing a good job.  He was diagnosed with anemia, failure to thrive and severe constipation in Sept. '07.  In July '07, he weighed 69 lbs. and has not gotten back to baseline.  He was on Topamax last summer and his neurologist and GI docs feel this is where the anemia, failure to thrive and constipation issues came from.  Although his hematocrit levels have come up significantly (he is now at 40) his iron level has not (currently a 7 at last check - Sept. '08); he is a very poor eater; has food sensitivity issues (does not like any foods that soft, or a "mushy" consistency i.e., applesauce, oatmeal and the like).  The Nutrionisit we saw tried him on several different supplements Pediasure, Boost, Ensure, etc. all to no avail.  He hated them--vomiting, gagging, he just couldn't stand the taste.  He doesn't eat many vegetables, but will eat salad, carrots and corn.  He likes only expensive meats, filet mignon, steak, no burgers, no hot dogs, eats chicken, turkey, no cold cuts at all, eats only peanut butter no jelly, can't have milkshakes because of the sensitivity issue and refuses to have the Carnation Instant Breakfast.
We're at our wits end and don't know what to feed this child.  We are concerned as he will be 13 in March and don't see much progress with weight gain or getting back to his  baseline.  How long should this be let go?  Meaning, we are concerned that his weight is not up, his blood levels still show low iron, but we're being told we're doing a good job with him.  Yes he has gained weight but he is by far the smallest child in his class and the children say things all the time.  The Ped. GI doc mentioned tube feeding at one point but it has not been mentioned again.
Any suggestions would be very helpful.  Thank you!
8 Responses
Avatar universal
Your nutritionist suggested Boost and Ensure? They're milk products and your son sounds like he has an allergy to milk protein. Undigested milk protein is damaging to the intestinal tract.
Please check out this book  Enzymes for Digestive Health and Nutritional Wealth by Karen DeFelice. I bought it online. This book helped my son recover from his digestive problems. Whatever your son's condition is, he needs a digestive enzyme, something like the Peptizyde or Zyme Prime, talked about in this book to help his body break down and properly absorb the proteins from his food, and the food sensitivity issues will disappear. Enzymes are little miracles.  You simply must read this book. There is so much info about intestinal healing, I really wish people would hand this book to their doctors.

I would find a new nutritionist too, by the way.
Did your nutritionist do any testing for fungal or bacterial overgrowth?

Hope this helps.

Enzy
Avatar universal
Sorry I took so long to respond.  Thank you so much for your input.  No the GI doc nor nutrionist did any testing for fungal or bacterial overgrowth.
Avatar universal
The following is a list of iron rich foods that could help with the anemia.

lean red meats, including beef, pork, lamb
greens, including collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens
vegetables, including broccoli, swiss chard, asparagus, parsley, watercress, brussel sprouts
chicken and turkey
nuts
egg yolks
dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, dates and apricots

Chicken is not that expensive and peanut butter is calorie dense so give him more of that to get his weight up.

If his problem is as serious as it sounds, maybe you shouldn't cater so much as to what he likes and strongly encourage him to eat foods that will get his weight up. It sounds like his low weight stems more from a lack of eating, aside from the problems associated with milk sensitivity.

Most kids are picky eaters. It's the parents job to step in and encourage (force?) a healthy diet. Try mixing in foods that he doesn't like with foods that he does that will drown out the taste of the others.
267079 tn?1195146570
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
His weight is just below the 5th percentile and his height is on the 10th percentile for his age. Suggest making ‘milkshakes’ out of soy ice cream and soy milk blended together or soy smoothies (soy yogurt, soy milk and frozen fruit). All soy products are milk free because they come from plant and not animal source, however, he will get additional calories and protein for weight gain. Use chocolate or vanilla favored soy products so there is not so much 'soy' favor and it will taste like a real milkshake / smoothies. Has your doctor tried 'Benefiber' for his constipation? It is natural, dissolves in the food, and has proved to be gentler on the colon. It is a good sign that the Hematocrit is going up. That means his Iron stores are improving. He is eating foods to increase Iron - steak, chicken, turkey, and salad. Suggest added raw spinach, dried fruits, and nuts to the salad to increase iron. Beans are an excellent source of iron and can be added to salad or eaten in soups, as a spread, mixed with pasta / rice (not too much rice due to it constipates), in tacos, etc. He should drinks orange juice at meals or have a vitamin C food source (citrus fruits & juices, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, broccoli, pepper, kale, sweet potato, & white potato) at meals to help absorb the iron in the body. Let him have peanut butter sandwich without the jelly. He is getting protein that way and calories which is great. Hoped this helped you.
Avatar universal
DO NOT GIVE YOUR SON SOY MILK, OR SOY ANYTHING. SOY CAUSES GUT DAMAGE.  MY SON"S ENDOCRINE SYSTEM HAS BEEN DAMAGED BY SOY. HE IS NOT UNIQUE. EVERYONE IS AT RISK.

I apologize for the outburst. This is the one thing I am passionate about (food-wise). My son was constipated for years. He was on soy infant formula, then soy milk, then soy protein "meats". He was diagnosed with soy allergy by age eight. We took him off all soy, but his health continued to deteriorate. I went online and learned the truth about soy. He was so ill. I took him to an endocrinologist. He had stopped growing and was cold all the time. He had an MRI.
Now he has hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and a pituitary cyst. Again, he is not unique.  Read  The Whole Soy Story  by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN.  My son's nutritional deficiencies, endocrine maladies, and behavioral changes are all explained in this book.
Soy acts like a drug. Researchers have coined the term "Developmental Estrogenization Syndrome" to describe the increased susceptibility to hormonal diseases and the altered behavior patterns in children, from the ingestion of soy. The marketing of soy infant formula should be banned.

I used to be a proponent of soy products, until my son was injured and I began to uncover the truth. Children especially should never, ever be given soy products. Soy is a dangerous "food".

If your son is eating turkey, chicken, steak and peanut butter,(which can also cause problems, by the way), he is getting enough protein. It sounds like he needs digestive enzymes, and probiotics.  My son also developed the "picky eater" food sensitivity issues, and these products healed his intestinal tract. He will be 13 in Nov. and is only 4'5". He was extremely thin before the enzymes and other nutritional treatments. He is gaining weight rapidly. (A little too rapidly. I hope this isn't another hormone problem).

Please check out the enzyme book I mentioned in my previous post. It explains how and why enzymes can benefit your son, and it has other important digestive health information. Enzymes are effective in controlling allergies too.
Oh, and Slippery Elm is completely safe and very healing to the digestive tract. My mother healed her diverticulitis with it. Ask about it at your health food store. It's wonderful stuff, if you can get your son to take it.

I wish you well.

Enzy
Avatar universal
Thank you Enzy for all your compassion and comments.  The other comments regarding "forcing" a child to eat is unwarranted - I believe.  Walk a mile in my shoes and then do not judge or assume I haven't done my job as a mother.
Unfortunately, I have not had the time as of yet to get the book you suggested. However, will be doing so soon.  Our son just had an endoscopy and colonoscopy and we are awaiting official results.  The initial results were blood found in the stomach and an enlarged vein with no known origin.  The GI specialist said unfortunately this leads to more questions instead of answers that we were hoping for-duh.  It's very frustrating!  He has lost more weight-now 62 lbs. and will be 13 in March. We took him to Cleveland Clinic where they tested him for "everything under the sun" regarding neurogenetic/neurometabolic disorders.  The doc there also suggested we take him to an endocrinologist--yet another specialist. To evaluate his poor growth.  Hopefully we will have answers to all these mysteries.
Just wanted to thank you for your helpful information.
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