How We Kissed Our Angel’s Reflux Goodbye

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by Sabrina Johnson |

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Reflux and constipation are not pretty words to hear. Unfortunately, when you’re the parent of an Angel, you may hear them a lot.

My 11-year-old Angel, Juliana, is now far removed from the digestive issues that plagued her as an infant and a toddler. Gastrointestinal problems are common for Angels and can include everything from reflux and vomiting to constipation. It wasn’t easy getting her to a healthier stomach, but I’m enjoying the current blissful state of her tummy. 

Early on, we had to deal with Juliana’s inability to keep formula down. Add to that her difficultly sleeping and constant crying, and it was quite a challenging infancy. When you don’t know that your baby has Angelman syndrome, it is difficult to manage all of the related symptoms.

As she got older, we continued to look for solutions to ease her constipation and reflux. We struggled to get her weight up and keep it up. Although she was a beautiful baby and toddler, she was small and not developing normally. Juliana suffered from failure to thrive because it was challenging to keep food down. 

Eventually, with the help of her pediatrician, a plan was put in place to help her gain weight. Special formulas and liquid supplements helped a lot. The weight gain was a big win for us. But I also noticed that when I stopped being laser-focused on the problem, things seem to feel less stressful.

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Our pediatrician referred us to a gastroenterologist who put Juliana on a low-fructose diet. I’m not a medical professional, but I believe this is when Juliana began getting a healthier gut. We had her tested for allergies as well. Although no allergies surfaced, I continued to keep high-fructose foods out of her diet. Then, one day, we didn’t notice any more reflux.

Angelman and reflux | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana smiles and waves while sitting cross-legged in the pediatricians office

A healthier Juliana visits the doctor during a wellness checkup last year. With her acid reflux under control, fewer visits to the pediatrician are necessary. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

I contribute the reflux improvements to the vast changes in Juliana‘s diet. Before we started the low-fructose diet, I realized that bread, corn, and dairy products seemed more difficult for Juliana to digest. To counter this, I put her on a gluten-free diet and limited dairy and corn products.

To date, Juliana‘s diet has remained the same with a few more modifications. We limit processed foods, and fresh fruit and vegetables are staples. Most of her carbs are healthy ones. She still follows a gluten-free, low-fructose diet. I also took dairy out of her diet completely. When I did this, her constipation got better right away.

I can’t remember the last time Juliana had a flare-up with reflux. For a long while, it was the norm that we lived with. I’m not sure if it’s the changes in her diet or getting older that have made a difference.

Truthfully, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just happy that her stomach is healthier. Unless it becomes medically necessary, I plan to stay the course with her current diet. After all, it works for us. Moreover, it works for Juliana’s tummy.  

Angelman and reflux | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana flashes a broad smile while sitting at the dinner table eating a healthy snack

Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson

Juliana enjoys a healthy snack. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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