09 June 2013

Iodine: A solution for infant constipation?

We have had an ongoing battle with Luke and his ability for bowel movements.  If you don't want to read about baby poop... this is your cue to stop reading...

Luke was exclusively breastfed up to about 5 months old and as a newborn, he had normal poop.  He passed meconium in the NICU (I cried tears of joy over that specific dirty diaper as it helped to reduce the concern for Luke having Hirschprung Disease, a problem more common in the DS population) and when we finally came home from the hospital, his poo was the normal yellow and seedy stuff.  It continued that way for some time like it was supposed to, but eventually he began to space out his bowel movements to once every 3 to5 days and then it was more like once every 5 to 7 days.  It was great for those of us changing his diapers and we didn't have concern as he didn't seem to be bothered by not going real often and additionally, our pediatrician once told us with Matthew (who waited 13 days once between bms!) that it was completely normal for breastfed babies to go that long between bm's because breastmilk is so perfectly designed for baby's body that they use it with high efficiency and there is virtually no waste for their body to get rid of!  I thought that was a pretty awesome explanation and a true testament to the miracle of life!  Although he was still exclusively breastfed, sometime around 3 months, his poop started to change... it was no longer yellow and seedy, instead it was more black (or possibly a super dark green) and it was the most foul smelling thing I'd ever smelled in my life and when the child passed gas... it was almost embarrassing how he could clear a room in 5 seconds flat (all while smiling and cooing like nothing was happening). 

I grew up on a dairy farm and have another child... being around (and sometimes after a day on the farm - even covered in) poop has never been a problem for me so don't think I'm overstating the grossness of this stuff.  Additionally, it was shiny and sticky - almost looking like meconium.  When this first started, he would fill an entire diaper with the stuff, but when we switched to formula, his output changed.  The best way I can describe it is no more than a tablespoon worth of poo once every 3 to 5 days and more recently, he has had severe constipation.  Last weekend, he had four very small bowel movements, each time screaming out in pain for between one and two hours and having multiple episodes of straining, complete with a red face, neck and chest before he was able to complete the job.  It was bad enough that the first time we went through it last weekend, I was in tears (and I'm generally pretty no-nonsense about that sort of stuff).  Fortunately I knew what to expect the next three times and Dustin was home to help support and comfort Luke through the while experience.

How we have responded to Luke's Pooping Problems...

  • We have had some success with just offering him one to two ounces of water per day in addition to his normal bottles - this has gotten him going more often and has seemed to give him some relief from straining, which is absolutely heartwrenching to witness
  • We are seeing a GI specialist later this month to check his anatomy and discuss potential for other issues... specifically, I have been bothered by the suggestion of Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome by our hematologist and it's something I want to discuss in detail with the folks in GI.  As far as symptoms go, Luke has the neutropenia and he also has what I think they describe as "greasy" stools, which are an indication of malabsorption.  That said, he is growing and appears to be thriving, so I'm not freaking out at this point about him potentially having SDS, but I do want to have a serious conversation about what we need to do to test for it and hopefully rule it out as a concern.
  • After reading the article below, I did order some USP Tincture of Iodine so we can do the iodine skin test as well as a bottle of Nascent Iodine to try in case it shows a deficiency.  Even if Luke doesn't need it, while I was researching it's effectiveness, I learned that it can really improve energy levels in adults, something that I'd be willing to try on myself!

The blog post below was copied and pasted from http://singofthemercies.com/our-journey-with-constipation/ because her page was coming up dark and I couldn't read it very well.... It's long, but discusses some homeopathic remedies to constipation...

It all started when Seth was 4 months old. I got the flu and my best friend offered to take Seth for the day. I had some frozen milk, so I reluctantly took her up on it and sent him on his way. At the time, he was having 3-4 baby bowel movements a day (yellow mustard kind). The next day, he had nothing, and it would continue that way for days at a time. He wouldn’t have a poopy diaper for 8-10 days, and when he did, it was like little rabbit pellets.

I tried everything natural that I could come up with: Epsom salt baths, prunes, prune juice, apple juice, LB extract (from the herbal store), Baby move, essential oils (two different companies), calcium/magnesium, leg exercises, etc. I would try each one for a week hoping for some change, but nothing seemed to help. I even did several together AND take things for me, so he would get it through the milk! I got super regular, but it didn’t seem to help him.

I mentioned it to two different doctors (same practice, different appointments/months), and they both said it was normal for some kids and I shouldn’t worry about it because he was exclusively breastfed. I didn’t believe them.  After 5 months, I finally resorted to using about 1/2 of a Pedia-Lax glycerin suppository every couple of days, just to give him some relief. They were supposed to take 15 minutes to work, but he would have a messy diaper within 5 minutes. I researched Hashimotos, obstructive bowel, etc. so I finally asked the doctor to give me a referral to a GI doctor. It took 6 MORE weeks.

Meanwhile, over the next month, on one Friday night, he couldn’t sleep. ALL NIGHT! He kept waking up, straining, and crying. SOMETHING wasn’t right. The next day, Saturday, I spent the whole day researching on the internet and in my books, crying out to God for an answer. Finally, I found something else to try.
According to the University of Michigan Health System, constipation is a symptom  of iodine deficiency. Once an iodine deficiency is definitively diagnosed, it is  often suggested that an individual incorporate more iodine-rich foods into the  diet or add iodized salt to meals, says the American Thyroid Association.
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/493441-iodine-constipation/#ixzz2VSj0JMgg
Huh, I thought. I know that kiddos with Ds can have thyroid problems, so maybe he’s deficient in iodine!
I had some bottles of Nascent Iodine (after the Japanese Nuclear fallout threat, and Alaska being possibly in danger due to the wind currents), so I thought, what can it hurt. I’ll try an iodine skin test to see how he does. So, I put two drops of nascent iodine on the back of his wrist. I also put some of it on me. I could practically watch his absorb. Mine stayed for hours. The next day, HE HAD A MESSY DIAPER!! (Here’s an article on the effectiveness of nascent iodine. And btw, I got the nascent iodine on sale, but I can’t remember exactly where I ordered it, but the amazon link is the exact type I have and use.)

I thought to myself that maybe it was just because it had been a few days. Maybe the suppositories are helping his colon remember what it is supposed to do, so I waited again for a few days. I put it on again on Wednesday night. Thursday, he had THREE messy diapers! After that, I put a drop on the back of his wrist daily, and every day, he would have a poopy diaper!! I was SO excited that I had solved it!! (My husband was SO proud of me!! :D )

Finally, the appointment with the GI came. I took the iodine with me and told the gal that I had figured out what the problem was. She completely dismissed it and said it was just a fluke that his body had just figured out how to have a bowel movement again. (Honestly, that’s exactly what she told me!) WHAT?!?!! I did SIX MONTHS of different things to try to help his bowels “wake up” to no avail. I even used the scientific method to test my theory, stopping treatment – NO bowel movement. Start treatment – BOWEL MOVEMENT! HELLO!!! She also told me that I was wasting my money giving him ANY vitamins, because they weren’t doing any good. “People never used to take vitamins, and were fine.” she said. WHAT?!?! SERIOUSLY?!? People also used to work in the soil IN THE SUNSHINE, eat fresh-cut organic food, fresh grass-fed meat, AND work their tails off too!! It isn’t like it WAS all those years ago, AND people STILL died of all kinds of diseases! YOU, my supremely “educated” doctor, are an IDIOT!

Oh, well, bringing my blood pressure back down now….

She did check his little bottom and said everything looked fine physically (which is what I really wanted to know anyway) and sent us on our way. Oh yeah, btw, when we got the bill, it was for $786!!! For 10 minutes of being berated by this gal!! Yeah, I’m still not over it…her name is Dr. Claire Wilson, btw. NEVER go to her!! She wasn’t even the GI I was supposed to see! Gaaa….

Anyway, my naturopath was impressed with my sleuthing. I have since taken him off of the iodine after he started taking his multivitamin, zinc, and selenium. I slowly quit applying it, and he hasn’t had a problem since. Usually he goes 2-3x a day, but he definitely goes at least once a day. And HE is a happy little boy!

And that, my friends, is my story. I SURELY hope it helps your child with Down syndrome. PLEASE let me know if it does!


  1. Omg. My daughter is facing the same problem here. Previously, she used to poo 5 times in a week. But now, she only space out less than three time bowel moment in a weeks. This make me so worried. I have also applied a few solution that taught by my parents which is tummy massage and gave her some fruit juice but the problem still remain the same. Any others suggestion ???

  2. use some traditional way like give fruits or vegetables. or maybe u can try use some herbs like old folks. maybe it can use and work

  3. I don’t suggest that applying those traditional remedies to your kids because most of it not working at all. I had an experience by tried one of it to my little one which suggested by my neighbour, but ended up I bought him to hospital to visit doctor. It is really dangerous. So you should look for those proper and proven remedies to cure and prevent constipation issue

  4. Maybe u can try Mamil la, can see the difference in a week for sure. I’ve been using it since last year and ever since my LO no probs with constipation. This is bcos Mamil has prebiotics and no sugar lehhh which is very good in treating and preventing constipation. Plus Mamil has the highest DHA level in the market nw!