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the eric update - day 239: the 3 hour stomach flu? or an incredible unedible egg?

you'd think after spending 96 days experiencing all the ups and downs of the neonatal intensive care unit rollercoaster that we'd be a little less apt to freak out when something out of the ordinary happens. well, today something out of the ordinary did happen and we discovered that, in fact, the memories of the nicu can come rushing back, threatening to transform you into - as it was so aptly described by ann leary in An Innocent, a Broad - one of the "weak-willed people with the small brains [who] ran shrieking into the burning wreckage."

this afternoon, kris came home from running some errands and asked how odin had been napping.

i exclaimed. "fine! i haven't heard a peep out of him for hours," as i simultaneously noticed that i had not actually turned on the baby monitor. not terribly alarmed, kris turned on the monitor and went about her daily duties. moments later odin awoke and we discovered that it appeared that he had thrown up a few times.

even though he seemed to be alright, i immediately went into OH-MY-GOD-WHAT-IF-HE-CHOKED-ON-HIS-VOMIT-WHILE-SLEEPING-AND-I-DIDN'T-HEAR-IT-BECAUSE-I-DIDN'T-TURN-ON-THE-MONITOR mode. then he threw up again right as he unloaded an unusually large montrosity that his diapers only barely managed to contain.

he threw up two more times during the diaper change which made it abundantly clear that something was amiss. and things were getting messy; so we gathered our wits and gave him a quick bath as we tried to make sense of what was happening.

wierdly, despite ejecting fluids from all available orifices, odin seemed quite happy to have the unexpected tub time with his rubber ducky.

after the tub, things went from bad to worse as odin vomited 8 times in an hour. and as time passed he went from a passive "spitting up" to a wretching that made it impossible deny that he was vomiting.

at this point, we both realized that we had absolutely no idea what to do. he'd had an egg a few hours prior to his nap and there was definately lots of egg coming up, so our leading theory was was he might be having problems digesting the it; perhaps even, he was having an allergic reaction?

as we debated the merits of calling the pediatrician, he started to get sleepy which was quite odd indeed, since he'd just had a two hour nap. i was brought to the brought to the edge of parental freakout as he started to nod off, only to choke himself awake as he tried to vomit on an empty stomach.

certainly, it was time to call the doctor.

perhaps not surprisingly, the pediatrician didn't think it was very likely that odin was having a life threatening allergic reaction to an egg. no, he thought it was much more likely that he had a case of mild stomach flu and recommened that after odin had stopped vomiting for an hour to start giving him 15 CCs of electrolytes every 15 minutes. if he made it for four hours without an incident, then he could start nursing again. of course, i was relieved to know that i wouldn't have to test my infant cpr skills.

after we started giving him small amounts of gerber liquilytes, odin quickly began acting as if nothing had happened, which is actually a little unsettling because i would think that the effects of stomach flu would last a longer than 3 or 4 hours.

as an interesting aside, it became clear to us that odin loved the liquilytes. i was suprised to see that both it and pedialyte contain sucralose. i'm not saying i think it's provably unsafe, but it still seems wierd to put a n artifical sweetener untested on infants in a product that's meant to be given to sick kids.

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2/28/2005 11:33:00 PM 7 comments

7 Comments:

Ah, the great electrolyte debate. Another controversial topic in baby land.

I'm so sorry that Odin gave you all such a scare. I hope that he continues to improve, poor baby :(.

By Blogger pumpkinhead, at 9:55 AM  

so many controversial topics in baby land! it's funny how quickly we fell into the "following doctor's orders" routine and didn't even think twice about it.

given that he's quite pro nursing, maybe the pediatrician assumed kris had stopped nursing? or maybe he considered the symtpoms we were describing to be moderate to severe ( in which case it seems the "safe" recommendation is to supplement nursing with electrolytes)? otherwise, as long as you can get the breastmilk into an easy-to-administer form there doesn't appear to be a good reason to recommend sucralose laden electrolytes over over breastmilk:

"Breast milk is an adequate rehydration fluid but not very easy to control or quantify while nursing. For mild, infrequent diarrhea try nursing more frequently than usual. If the diarrhea becomes moderate to severe in frequency, begin following the same guidelines for formula fed infants after 24 hours, including the use of electrolyte solution."

By Blogger e3, at 11:23 AM  

Depending on who you ask and in what context, breast milk is considered to be a 'clear fluid'. So, for example, if your child is only allowed clear fluids before a surgical procedure, breastmilk is ok, whereas formula, is not.

Electrolytes are ideal for a formula fed baby who is having GI upset as the large milk protiens in the milk based formula can furthur irritate an already irritated tummy. Breastmilk usually doesn't have this effect. I agree that it's best to express the milk and give it in small quantities or just nurse for a minute or two at a time (which might cause a revolution on the part of the nursee :)).

That said, if you're doing that and your kiddo is still puking, but doesn't respond in the same way to the electrolytes, then you do what works, right?

It's amazing that any one of us ever has a child that makes it into adulthood. There's just so much that has to be found out via trial and error. Poor kids. Poor parents. :)

By Blogger pumpkinhead, at 5:01 PM  

Here's the trick about sucralose - it's never metabolized. It's the mirror image of a sucrose molecule - "isomer" I think is the chemical term (my chemically-inclined family members may be wincing at the moment, but I think I'm right). As such, it's considered to be one of the "safest" non-sugar sweeteners - and I can't imagine it'd have any adverse effects on the little ones.

By Blogger Sarah, at 9:40 PM  

OF COURSE it was the egg! Why would the pediatrician say it was a stomach flu when the poor baby got sick right after he ate an egg? Eggs are well know to cause reactions in babies. It can't hurt to give a little electrolyte drink (if it doesn't disrupt nursing, although it's not any better than breastmilk) but that pediatrician is arrogant or stupid if he/she discounts the fact that the baby had eggs. Duh.

By Blogger Katie, at 12:17 AM  

Chemist here... sucralose is not an isomer of sucrose, it's a chemically modified version. Three of the hydroxy (-OH) groups have been replaced by chlorine (-Cl) atoms, making it impossible to metabolize. Personally I'm concerned that these organochlorine atoms are in similar locations to the organochlorine atoms on pesticides (as opposed to inorganic chlorides in table salt, which are not attached to carbons). But seeing that it hasn't killed anyone we know of, it might be alright. But for babies? What concerns me the most is if a mother consumes too much sucralose and passes it onto the baby (undigested) in her breast milk, the milk will be artificially sweet. That might cause the child trouble later in life if s/he becomes used to having such sweet food.

By Anonymous Charles, at 8:44 AM  

charles: " Chemist here... sucralose is not an isomer of sucrose, it's a chemically modified version."

thanks for the clarification charles.

By Blogger e3, at 8:11 AM  

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"it is hard to be brave," said piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal." rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

the complete tales & poems of winnie the pooh

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this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

he's quite a fighter and you can always send him a postcard to the most current address listed here if you're inspired by his adventures. see the postcard project/google maps mashup to see a map of the postcards.

if you're new, you can browse the archives to catch up. and don't forget to watch a few movies that i made while we were in the neonatal intensive care unit. or if you want the abridged version and you can find a copy, you can read about his adventures in the november 2005 issue of parents magazine.



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