Do you love your pediatrician?
I did not love mine. In fact, my husband and I so did not love our pediatric group that we fired them when our baby was just six months old.
We pivoted.Our little guy never saw a pediatrician again. We wanted to love the pediatrician, not be furious with him.
We worked with our family practice doc, a naturopathic doc (ND), our MD GI specialist, and whomever else stood among the helpers/supporters. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, our pediatric group was not in that camp.
At six months, our little one had had way more office visits than expected. He’d been rushed to the ER, and he’d been hospitalized too. He rarely felt good or happy, rarely smiled, wasn’t interested in movement or much playfulness, and his gross motor skills were delayed such that he qualified for services. He was not sleeping, not feeding well, had constant rashes, kept getting sick, had seizures, and was slipping down the growth chart.
It was rough from the start. And throughout it all, every measure the pediatric group had given us had hurt, not helped, that baby boy. Every. Single. One. From telling us to “let him cry it out” (huge fail) to “more shots right now or we call child protective services” (I complied, and all that ensued were more seizures, more vomiting, more misery, less growth and gain, rashes, pain) to “this is fine, this is normal” (nope) … nothing offered by this pediatric office did any good.
We were done.
So, one day, during yet another phone call with the pediatrician, I hung up on him.
Years before this happened, I had completed my graduate and undergraduate degrees in nutrition and public health, as well as registration as a dietitian/nutritionist. Licensure followed once it became available for my profession too. My training in pediatric nutrition and maternal and child health had drilled me on the power and necessity of nutrition for a baby’s brain, not only in utero, but through the first three years at least. Nutrition, feeding, and a functional gut are crucial. The brain takes half the fuel the body draws out of food during that moment of explosive growth and development. Nutritional compromise, if severe enough, can injure a baby’s brain for life. At the tender age of a few weeks or months, it doesn’t take much to injure a growing brain – especially if it is not corrected.
Wait, did my pediatrician not receive that training? I later learned, they pretty much didn’t, and still don’t.
Frayed to the bone after just six months of being a new mom, there I was on the phone again with the doctor. At this point, we were failing on all formulas, and on breast milk. We’d cycled through different formula trials, each one with the expectation that I’d stop breastfeeding, pump and save the milk, then resume breastfeeding. Breastfeeding had already exhausted me. My son sipped slowly and took 10 hours out of every 24 just to eat even at six months of age. On top of that, he still hadn’t managed to sleep more than 20 or 40 minutes at a time. We’d all been awake 24/7 for six months, relying on mini cat naps. His stools were explosions of mucousy yellow that reached his neck and soaked his clothes up to 8 times a day – to which the pediatrician had mused, “I think it’s [the mucus] coming from the diaper”.
True story. My pediatrician actually said that.
I had to find a new way to feed this guy. He needed to grow, feel better, and sleep better.
I asked the doc, “what did you guys feed babies back in the day, before all these formulas, and when a mom couldn’t breastfeed?”
“Just keep using soy formula” he said, “Nothing else you can do.”
Ok – context: This was 1997. GMO soy formula was the popular go-to if a baby failed milk protein formula. There were no organic infant formulas, no goat milk formulas, no goat milk formula recipes, no internet to speak of, no European alternative formulas. There was milk protein formula (some with more whey than casein, which also failed), there was soy formula, and there was semi-elemental formula (like Alimentum or Nutramigen). That was it. Elemental formula like Neocate was new to the US at that time – but we had already tried that too.
My reaction was: Wait. What? Just keep doing what hurts this baby? Who hadn’t been able to pass stool for 12 days? Who prior to that, was passing black hard pebbles every few days, maybe, with struggle and duress? Whose appetite vanished because he couldn’t poop at all? Who can’t sleep because he’s hungry or is in pain? Just keep doing this? Because…. just because the doctor I’m speaking to is too poorly trained to help this infant thrive?
I slammed the phone down. Fun! Back when you could slam a receiver down on an actual phone. I hung up on my pediatrician. We never spoke to that group again. That was that.
Best decision I ever made. That’s when I really started to find my feet as a mom. That was my moment of empowerment. I took permission, which I realized was mine to begin with, to go with my instinct, and listen to my true nature as a woman and a mom, to take care of the baby I’d carried into this world.
That was also the moment I knew this would be work I’d do, not just for my child, but someday, when I could, I’d do it for other moms who forgot how to hear their intuition, their own power. Because I couldn’t possibly be the only one, and my baby couldn’t possibly the only one struggling with no effective help from the doctor.
Fast forward 25 years. I’ve been in private practice as a registered licensed dietitian/nutritionist for over two decades, helping babies and kids leverage nutrition and food so they can thrive. I’ve pulled them out of the wreckage that conventional pediatrics has made of them.
Ouch to the docs – I get it. But – truly, what I have witnessed in these years in practice has been daunting. Discouraging. Shocking. Frustrating. How are you guys not seeing it? Once you do, you can’t un-see it: Pediatrics has gone off the rails.
In my training years, the only mention of pediatric chronic conditions was in a single brief rotation at a Shriner’s hospital for kids with severe birth defects (rare) or severe spinal cord injuries. There was no autism, little to no pediatric Crohns disease (and definitely not in infants and toddlers), no diagnosis codes for pediatric OCD, ODD, or severe anxiety disorders – not to mention more recent diagnoses like FPIES or intestinal failure, for which cries for help hit my in box now on the regular.
In the late 1980s when I completed graduate school, 6% of US kids had a chronic condition, developmental disability, other disability, or obesity. Now, even conservative tallies place this at over half of US kids.
I’ve worked with children as young as 2 years old with confirmed Crohns per biopsy. Children with autism diagnoses have made up the bulk of my practice for many years. It’s as though they have nowhere to go, after being placed in ABA therapy and given drugs to control behavior or seizures. Having been in practice so long, I am now seeing a second generation of children – and they are sicker than the generation before. Despite inventing and prescribing many more drugs and biological products for children than ever, our children have only become more sick, less able.
It seems pediatricians no longer understand what health looks like. Or, they have a new super low bar for it, and think it’s “health” when kids need a lot of drugs and shots:
- If a child stops growing, they wait until the child drops to failure to thrive status, then refer to GI for a tube feeding – for a surgically inserted tube that will deliver a GMO formula with corn syrup and potentially inflammatory proteins.
- If a child doesn’t sleep, their behavior becomes untenable, or they have environmental allergies, the doc will prescribe drugs to suppress symptoms, which often escalate to more illness and worsening symptoms later on.
- If a child gets repeat colds and infections (>2 or 3 per year), they are given antibiotics – over and over, even as these fail – and more shots.
There is no investigation. No inquiry. Pediatricians have become rote drug dealers with little skill beyond their prescription pad, and I hear deep frustration about this from families nationwide every week.
Let’s just say it: American Academy of Pediatrics, you’re fired.
Your family deserves good health and a provider who knows how to help you create it
I encourage parents to find the providers who are helpers. Helpers encourage, problem solve, troubleshoot; they hold you up when you are unsure; they restore health by resolving root cause. Are your doctors doing this for your family?
I’ve noticed this in my private practice tenure: Parents who take charge and who cultivate partnerships with providers who are comfortable with fewer prescription drugs, and who respect parents as equals – these are the families whose children move away from debility and chronic illness, and toward higher well being and happiness. The endless upward cycle of more and more procedures, diagnostics, and drugs is worth questioning: Has it made your child healthier, happier, stronger? If so, keep up the good work. If not, there may be a better way, a hybrid of natural parenting with good medical care when warranted.
If your car broke down and stranded you every time your mechanic worked on it, would you keep this mechanic?
- Naturopathic Doctor – Naturopaths are licensed and/or require registration and monitoring in 25 states, with 3 more states pending this legislation in 2022. In many states they can order labs, imaging, or blood draws, and can be recognized as Primary Care Physicians. Their focus is on natural non-drug solutions and root cause.
- Family Nurse Practitioner or Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – either may be a helpful ally. FNPs are licensed, independent practitioners.
- Family Practice Physicians care for the whole family, all ages. Consider looking for one certified in functional medicine. See my caveat about functional medicine for children here.
- Classical homeopathy was a profoundly effective tool for my child’s health from a young age, and my family still relies on it today. I was fortunate as a young mom to have this resource in my community, where one of my providers was a pediatric nurse practitioner who was a trained classical homeopath. If you don’t have a homeopath in your area, pick up a copy of Everybody’s Guide To Homeopathic Medicines. This is an invaluable help for resolving minor bumps, bangs, fevers and routine illnesses of childhood, from teething and broken bones to anxiety, sleeplessness, and digestive upsets. It saved me countless doctors visits.
- Weston Price Organization – If there was ever an organization fierce on whole family wellness, nourishing real food, nutrition, and natural health, it’s this one. You’ll find a great community (local chapters abound) as well as a deep well of information on all family and child health topics.
Thank you so much for your post. My daughter was born at 24 weeks with chronic lung disease among much other issues. We lived in the hospital for a year and fought most doctors and nurses whom jumped to conclusions about symptoms and were ready to prescribe every drug available or rush into a procedure. We felt differently and advocated for our daughter. Thankfully we finally found a group of doctors who supported us and listened and probably saved our daughters life. Just because someone has been to med school and wears a white coat, does not make them God and especially does not mean that they know everything, especially everything that is best for your child. Trust your instinct and don’t be afraid to question anything.
Thank you for pointing out the medicine is not the answer for everyone and sometimes there are other paths to take with possibly a better outcome. Listen and do your own research.