Mucous and blood in the stool can be a sign of allergic colitis. It is caused by some proteins that irritate baby’s gastrointestinal system and cause inflammation. This usually starts at the age of two months. However, my son was 5 months old when I first spotted blood in his stool.
My son’s bloody stool was triggered by probiotics. When he was about 4.5 months old he started waking up frequently at night. Our pediatrician thought his tummy was bothering him (there were other signs too) and recommended probiotics.
I bought regular dairy-based probiotics. Two days after the first use I noticed blood in my son’s stool. He was probably susceptible to dairy anyways, but probiotics triggered the allergic reaction.
First, we did stool specimen to rule out infections and parasites. The tests were all good. Then we had an appointment with a gastroenterologist. He suspected allergic reaction to something in my milk.
I was offered two options. An easy one – quit breastfeeding and start hypoallergenic formula. Or the tough one – start an elimination diet and continue breastfeeding. I chose the second. No corn, dairy, wheat, nuts, eggs or soy.
Be very careful and read all the labels if you do this diet. You won’t believe what products might contain casein or whey (dairy proteins). Every bit counts.
Also keep in mind that wheat-free and gluten-free are not the same things. Gluten is also present in some other grains, like barley and rye. So if it says wheat-free, watch out for gluten! For the purpose of elimination diet avoid both gluten and wheat in you diet.
I had a lot of milk frozen and I was using it to supplement my breastfeeding at that time. This wasn’t good any longer, because it was pumped before the diet.
Our gastroenterologist recommended giving my son some hypoallergenic formula. It was reported to heal intestines well. So I started supplementing with Nutramigen (by Enfamil). My son started gaining weight better.
We tried to think of everything that my son or I consumed that might be a trigger. I switched that dairy-based probiotics to dairy-free organic Raw Probiotics for Kids (by Garden of Life).
Also, as most breastfed babies my son was taking vitamin D supplement. Be careful reading the label. Some contain corn oil or syrup. It is a tiny bit of it in every 400 units, but it is enough for someone allergic to corn.
If you have Whole Foods in your area, the only corn-free vitamin D I found was there. The brand is Carlson. Check the label.
We were also advised to postpone solids until the bloody stool problem was resolved.
The general rule is that after removing the triggers the blood should technically go away within 3-4 weeks.
December 22nd– saw blood for the first time
1/4 – elimination diet started, stopped dairy probiotics and vitamin D
1/5 – started Nutramigen
1/28 (3.5 weeks since elimination diet started) – still some blood, but the doctor allowed to start solids.
3/18 – NO blood!!! All this time once every two weeks we were collecting stool specimen and our doctor was testing it. It is an easy test that a pediatrician should be able to do in his office.
3/18 – added corn to our diet. Another stool specimen two weeks later. No blood.
4/15 – added wheat to our diet. Another stool specimen two weeks later. No blood.
5/5 – added dairy to our diet. Another stool specimen two weeks later. No blood.
7/25 – my son was already 12 months old and we stopped Nutramigen. I was still breastfeeding.
8/1 – my son had diarrhea. Did stool specimen. Blood in the stool. Stopped dairy again. Started Nutramigen.
8/11 – stool specimen. No blood.
A couple of weeks after that we added dairy back and stopped Nutramigen. The blood stopped, never came back and I hope never will.
This was a long path and it did look hopeless at times. But I chose that way, and I am very glad I did.
No one knows what helped with the blood. I sometimes think my son simply outgrew it by the age of one, as many babies do. Or what if I saved my son from potentially severe allergies in the future. Allergic reactions do tend to accumulate with time and then cause an outbreak.
If this is the case, can we ignore blood in the stool? It is very individual. Some early-age allergic reactions are outgrown. Some develop into severe allergies.
My take on it?
If your baby shows blood in the stool, don’t ignore it and don’t quit breastfeeding. You will never know how serious the condition will turn to be before you get there. Just wait, follow your doctor's recommendations and keep on doing an amazing breastfeeding job!
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.