QA With Author Tracy Davenport: Nutrition

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • HealthCentral Interviews Tracy Davenport About Her New Book, “Making Life Better for a Child With Acid Reflux”

    In Chapter 10 of your book, Michele Innes talks about nutrition. For an infant with allergy-related reflux, a parent may feel overwhelmed by the steps he or she needs to take to understand how to put together a successful diet for the child. How hard was it for you and what advice would you give parents?

    Figuring out what foods won’t aggravate our son’s reflux is still very hard for us. It is a complicated task that requires a lot of thought and planning, and most importantly, professional advice.

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    I cannot imagine trying to figure out our son’s diet without the help of professionals who are well versed in acid reflux and nutrition. Specifically, every few months we meet with a nutritionist and a gastroenterologist. Each of these specialists approaches our dietary questions from a different perspective, and together we are able to work as a team to make sure our child is receiving the most nutrition possible with the least ill effects.

    However, getting to the place where we feel like we have a plan (for most days) has been a very long road for us. I really feel for parents who are just beginning to put together a safe diet for their infant with acid reflux for several reasons:

    1) Babies can’t speak. Many times if the diet the parents are providing for the infant is causing discomfort, the only way they may know the diet is not working is that the baby is crying excessively, not sleeping or is just plain miserable. When this is the case, it can be really difficult for parents to think clearly and effectively about a specialized dietary plan for their baby.

    2) Babies (and children) can have a delayed reaction to a diet. This can happen in two different directions. In other words, even if the new formula (or diet if the baby is breastfed) is working, the baby may still be feeling the ill effects of what he or she ate several days ago, so even though the parents are on the right track, they may not know it right away. This can be psychologically demoralizing and just plain difficult to endure physically. In the other direction, the baby may seem to be doing well on the new diet at first, and then several days later the parents may find out that particular diet is not working either. I have found that even after four years of these ups and downs, I still tend to celebrate the dietary successes way too early, only to be left overly disappointed a few days later.

    3) Parents may not yet be connected to a responsive medical team. There are many in the medical community who are well versed in the feeding complications associated with acid reflux. However, in the early stages of obtaining a diagnosis, parents may not yet be working with one of those professionals, so it can leave everyone just guessing.

    With all that said, the advice I would give to parents is threefold.

  • Parents need to get support. While all of this might be solved with one quick formula change, it might also be a longer and more difficult road than they had hoped. The baby’s caregivers will know better than anyone what type of family support is necessary while they try to figure out a diet that works.
  • Parents should realize their baby or child is unique. Sometimes in the beginning of the process of figuring out what is wrong, it may be tempting to look for short cuts to the solution. You know, when well meaning friends say, “Just try xxx formula. It worked for us.” Parents need to understand that especially with allergic reflux, many factors may play into the ultimate dietary solution for their particular child.
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  • Parents should try to find an astute medical professional(s) as quickly as they can. The ones in-the-know will be able to provide a systematic way to solve, or at least manage, their baby’s diet if reflux if an issue.

Published On: July 20, 2006