"I'm a scientist," he said. It took all the self-control I possessed not to roll my eyes and respond in sarcasm.

     There stood my step-daughter in the pediatrician's office, bouncing 10 week-old baby Noah in her arms. She had asked me to accompany her this time because we wanted to change his formula. Yes, formula. 10 weeks old and he's eating formula already.

     Noah was born about 8 weeks early, they say. He lived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a children's hospital in Dallas for about five weeks. When he was about 10 days old, he developed NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis) and after antibiotics and rounds of x-rays, it cleared up. Since then, the doctors encouraged formula, saying he couldn't handle breastmilk (which is the biggest load of hooey I've ever heard, but this post isn't about that). Not knowing she could fight for the right to breastfeed, my step-daughter relented.

     The formula Noah has been eating is apparently the cream of the crop, the "Cadillac" of formulas. Even the nurses in the hospital hadn't heard of it when the doctor prescribed it. "Elecare" claims to be the pre-digested (by what, I don't care to know) formula that is the most easily assimilated by babies. 

     But all of that doesn't matter. Noah has been a screaming fit ever since he came home from the hospital, despite gaining almost five pounds since then. He has had acid reflux, vomiting, bowel blockage... all that from the most easily digestible formula on the market. My step-daughter, at times, has been close to tearing her hair out in frustration and is now certain this will be her one and only child. 

     Meanwhile, she was running out of formula and I had been doing some reading. There is only one formula on the market that does not contain a key ingredient. A key bad ingredient: a synthetically made DHA supplement. DHA is an omega-3 essential fatty acid and is a main structural component of the brain and eyes. DHA occurs naturally in breastmilk and is said to be important for healthy visual and mental development throughout infancy.
     Unfortunately, man-made vitamins, minerals and fatty acids are sub-standard and can cause serious side effects. This one, synthetic DHA, can lead to: 
  • Severe gas 
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting  
  • Gastric reflux 
  • Constipation and bowel obstruction 
  • Agitation, fussiness, crying and severe distress
    Little Noah was experiencing all symptoms. Two weeks ago, the doctor gave him an acid reflux medication to help with the reflux. "Really? You're going to treat one symptom? Just like a doctor to shove a drug in your face as he ushers you out the door," I thought. 

     Here we are two weeks later, and his condition has improved only slightly. The doctor admitted it might be a good idea to switch formulas and suggested one made by Similac. That's when my step-daughter presented him with the information about this synthetic DHA supplement and asked for the ONE formula on the market that is made without it: Baby's Only Organic Formula by Nature's One. Both WIC and Medicaid cover it. Now let's just see if he'll let her use it...
     First, he objected to the formula's being organic by saying, "Even poison ivy is organic." Yes sir, you're right. But I'm sure that it does its job without any added ingredients, either.

     Next, he protested the doctor who wrote the information. "Is he a pediatrician? Has he done the research? I'm a scientist. I do this all the time." Scientist, sir? I beg to differ. Scientists spend long days in a lab, testing hypotheses, gathering statistics, and writing reports. You, sir, are a busy pediatrician who talked to us for a total of 10 minutes. And your day will be spent doing the same for 50 other patients and their parents. I doubt you have the time to be a scientist as well. (No, I did not say all of this, because we would have left without getting what we wanted)

     At this point, I pulled the can of formula out of Noah's diaper bag and said, "Well, we ran out for formula yesterday, and I went ahead and got some. He's been on it ever since and has only spit up twice since then. We would really like to see what only two weeks will do for him."

     This seemed to soften him a little. BAM. Gotcha. We can do something without your consent. What're you gonna do about it? After my humoring him through another bout of "I know what I'm doing" talk, he finally gave in. And, in the off-chance of WIC not accepting this formula, he gave us a back-up prescription of the other formula he had suggested at the outset.

     Hey, docs: why is it so hard to imagine that a parent would know his child better than you? Why is it so hard to imagine that we could be educated about treatments and side effects? Why is it so easy to ignore the root cause and only treat a symptom? 

     Recently, I took one of our dogs to the veterinarian to get neutered. He tore out stitches a couple times and ended up having to stay several days because, in the vet's words, she "didn't want to see him again." She wanted him to heal. 

     Maybe next time I get sick, I should go to a vet.
Kristyn Leonard, CLC
04/12/2012 05:44

As a lactation counselor this absolutely breaks my heart to read!! I'm so sorry you hace to go through this. Good for you for fighting for what you want. You are right about the artificial DHA. It is horrible, not even proven to have any impact in babys health and harvestes from fungi using carcinogenic chemicals. Just so you know, if she wants, your step daughter can still breastfeed, wic has counselors that can help, ask for one that is a certified lactation counselor instead of just a peer counselor, they have more training. Or often the hospital yoy deliver in has IBCLCs, a step above the CLC in terms of training, and some will let you come back for lactation care for free, while others charge various amounts. And FYI if I was a betting woman I would say the formula caused the NEC, they should know that. I wish you all the best. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about lactation.

Kristyn Leonard, CLC
04/12/2012 19:12

Wow. Sorry 'bout all the typos, I did that comment from my phone this morning! I just didn't want to miss telling you that it's not too late for MOM to decide what to feed the baby, not the Drs. Any lactation counselor/consultant you find should be able to help you themselves or point you to someone who can.

04/12/2012 06:51

I am sorry to hear about the booby traps your daughter has faced. I have heard that it is possible to relactate. I think its very sad that there are so many formula pushers out there. I hope things get better for yall and baby Noah!

04/14/2012 15:47

Seriously. It breaks my heart to hear doctors say that a baby can't HANDLE breast milk? I know you said that is a different story, and it is, but it happens so often. It is the number one thing a doctor goes to if the baby is having an issue...how is it that medical professionals are SO uneducated? I have met very few that feel that way, thankfully, but those who know know that it is RARE that breast milk is the problem. There are other things that can be wrong with a baby. Bless your hearts and if she decides to stay on formula I pray that he thrives on this new one.


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