December 30, 2008,
J.R. asks from Minneapolis, MN on December 29, 2008
8 Month Old Losing Weight
I have recently discovered my 8 month old daughter has been losing weight. We were fostering a dog who had giardia and tapeworms and a litter of puppies and I notice some things in her diaper that looked like they might have been worms. I made an appointment to get her checked out and discovered that she's lost a little more than a half a pound in the last 3 or 4 months. We tested her for giardia, pinworms and other intestinal parasites, but the tests all came back negative. I know that this doesn't mean that she absolutely doesn't have them because the eggs might not have been in the sample tested. I've figured that I'll just wait till her 9 month well baby check to see if she's still losing before I dig deeper, however now I'm starting to wonder if that's the right thing to do.
Elisabeth has been exclusively breastfed until 5 months when I started adding homemade baby food to her diet. She can easily put down 18 oz of food in addition to nursing when she wakes up, before and after each meal, at bedtime and 2 or 3 times through the night. She started out above the 95th percentile in weight and at her last well baby appt she dropped down to the 75th. She continues to remain at the 98th percentile for height. I have done some research on breastfed baby growth charts (cuz they grow at different rates than formula fed babies) and it looks like while being in the top percentiles her first 5 months, she's now below the 50th percentile at 8 months. This concerns me!
What seems odd is that other than little hives that don't bother her and just last 15 or 20 minutes, she seems perfectly healthy and thriving. She's hit developmental milestones consistently early and continues to develop at a fast pace. She's active and happy and easy going. She shows no symptoms of ill health other than the weight loss. Without looking at her weight history, she seems like a picture of great health.
I'm having a tough time finding information on weight loss in older infants, particularly while breastfeeding. I'm trying to decide if I'm being overly concerned (since she's otherwise fine) or if I should be more proactive in figuring out what is going on. I know that each baby is different and what is normal varies greatly. Is weight loss ever normal? I know that while developing mentally and physically can pause growth, does it ever cause weight loss? If she shows no other symptoms, could it just be that she's not getting enough to eat (even given the massive amounts that she does eat?)? I realize that everyone has different metabolisms, but could hers be THAT different that she's losing in spite of eating eveyrthing in sight? It just doesn't seem right to me.
Does anyone else have any experience with this? Does anyone have any suggestions for getting to the bottom of what's going on? Other things for me to research, etc?
K.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 30, 2008
I'm sorry you are so worried about this. You did the right thing by bringing her in and getting her tested for all that stuff.
In my experience, both my girls lost weight when they started crawling and walking. Has she recently started crawling?
K.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 30, 2008
Physical development can cause weight loss. There are a lot of things can can cause her to lose weight that are perfectly normal, so I wouldn't worry about it just yet. Also, most (if not all) ped offices do allow free weight checks at any time for infants.
K.S. answers from Minneapolis on December 30, 2008
I don't have much experience in the weight loss division other than my breastfed son went from 95% at birth to 10% within the first 4 months and then stabilized.
But in terms of intestinal parasites, you are correct in that the tests for them are notoriously unreliable. If you suspect parasites, she probably has them. In Costa Rica, people just automatically treat for them every 6 months if they have any symptoms at all. One natural treatment is to grind up a few papaya seeds and mix them into soft food or a smoothie. They are used in many tropical areas to get rid of intestinal parasites. BTW you should treat the whole family. Giardia is extremely common and very easy to pass from person to person. I always was told you had to drink contaminated water but that is is not true.
C.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 30, 2008
The one thing that jumped out at me is that you mention hives, which are NEVER "normal". Your daughter is allergic to something, either the dog(s), something else in her environment, or food. If I were you, I would research that a little more. Keep a journal of her activities and food and see if you see a connection between anything and the hives.
A simple blood test can rule out food allergies. (My ND does a blood test that tests for 200+ food allergens.)
I would keep an eye on the weight loss for now, but wouldn't necessarily panic. I don't know anything about parasites, but perhaps testing her again would be wise, as would giving her medication for parasites regardless of the test results.
We are talking a very small weight loss so far. You never know, next month she could gain a few pounds! Babies can really be all over the map. One thing to consider is if you and her father are naturally skinny.
A.L. answers from Minneapolis on December 30, 2008
I wouldn't worry too much if she is just dropping percentiles, but it sounds like she is also actually dropping weight. While this could just be that she is more active, I would still want to thoroughly look into it to be sure. One thing you could check are her Carnitine levels. My son dropped a pound between 6 and 9 mos checkups and it turned out his Carnitine levels were low. He needed to take an oral supplement for awhile and eventually outgrew it (which some do and some don't, but even if they don't it's just a matter of taking a supplement.) I know weight loss can be caused by a lot of things (and it sounds like you've got a good guess with intestinal parasites) and this may not help at all, but just one more thing to add to the list of things to check. (By the way it is a simple blood draw that checks this, so both the diagnosis and "cure" are relatively simple.) I would voice my concern to the dr. and if the the dr. thinks its okay to wait until 9 mos, then watch, but don't worry. Of course, if you are concerned, take her in. Better to be the overprotective mom who is in the dr.'s office unnecessarily than to have missed something crucial! Good luck!