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Corn and my baby

Posted on March 7th, 2007 by Alison Read 22 Comments - Add Your Own »


WARNING: graphic baby poop talk ahead. Proceed with caution.

When my second daughter was born, I expected the normal newborn poop of a breastfed baby – mustard yellow, curd-like and sweet-smelling. This never happened for her. Her poop was, shall we say, a bit on the foul side: brown, sometimes with black streaks, mucus-y, and smelly. I knew something was not right and kept hoping it would change, but it only got worse. Clearly there was something going on with her digestive system. She sometimes had a lot of gas, which I know people think is normal for babies, but my first baby had no gas, so I wasn’t going to accept it in this one. I had to figure out what was causing her tummy distress. She also had little hives/rash on her neck and behind her ears. During night feedings, she would sometimes take 45 minutes to go back to sleep. She just didn’t calm down quickly. At times I wondered if I had a “colicky” baby.

I decided to investigate my diet. I was already gluten-free. I then went off dairy as that is a common allergen, but no significant change happened. What was I eating a lot of that could be a potential allergen? I ate a lot of corn – could that be it? I ate tortilla chips every day and a lot of them. I also ate corn tamales and corn tortillas. I did a search on the web to see if other people had any experience with corn and newborns but found nothing. I decided to do my own test and stop eating corn. Lo and behold, within days, my 2 month old baby stopped having gas. She stopped having bowel movements as frequently and the poop? Not dark and smelly anymore! Her skin cleared up, and the best part of all was that she calmed down at night and went right back to sleep after her feedings.

There is still no corn in my diet or hers. I did test my theory and ate corn one time – her stool changed and her rash came back. I am hoping that she will not be sensitive to corn as she gets older, but I will proceed with caution. I hope that this little anecdote helps a mom out there searching for an answer.

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  1. I am floored by what I just read in your post, that is my experience word for word(with regard to the poopie).
    Our baby boy was diagnosed with failure to thrive, he was just 6.4 lbs at 2 and a half months old. After a great deal of time attempting to continue breastfeed, could see something was still very wrong. I, at my doctor’s behest, did a several day trial of formula with him. It was nearly immediate that his poopie started to look normal. I am so sad to think that I might have been able to keep breastfeeding him, as I had with our other two children, if I had only seen your post sooner.
    We are still in the process of researching what is going on with him. They want to test him for celiac disease.
    Thanks for sharing your experience,
    Take Care.

  2. Bekahmomofthree,
    I think that the poop experience can signal an intolerance/allergy to anything. It requires detective work to figure it out sometimes, which can be extremely difficult when you are breastfeeding. I understand your regret about not being able to breastfeed, but you were doing what was best for your baby at that time. Yes, if you or your doctor had been more aware of the effects of the mother’s diet on the baby, maybe decisions would have been made differently. Motherhood is hard enough without this added stress!
    I do think that your child should be tested for celiac, especially with the failure to thrive, but be aware that test results are not 100% accurate.

  3. Good for you for figuring this out and sticking with it! According to my mother, I was also like this when I was a baby. She says I was “a very smelly baby”. After taking me off almost all common food allergens I was fine, and the doctors told my family that the food allergies would go away as I grew. Strangely, as teen and young adult I was obsessed with organic corn chips and would eat them almost every day. I didn’t think my digestive problems were caused by this, after all, my food allergies went away, right? Wrong, even thoughI was eating healthy vegan organic foods I still had stomach and kidney problems that went away after I met and was inspired by a vegan girl who was off corn and gluten and feeling much much better for it. Now I can tell if my food has hidden corn or gluten ingredients in it, my stomach starts burning almost instantly. And apparently all those years off eating food I couldn’t digest very well does cause damamge to the stomach. So keep that lil’ girl off the corn for as long as you can!

  4. Scorchie,
    Thanks for your story. It seems like corn sensitivity is growing like many other foods are. Since I was off of corn for about a year, I have eased back into eating it. I am not sure if I am sensitive or not yet.

  5. I have four children. All of them had diarrhea and vomiting, rashes, ear problems, eczema, etc. But my doctor told me they were “fine” since they were still growing. I finally decided not to accept that answer and began a quest to find out what was wrong. After elimination diets we discovered that all of our children have trouble with corn and gluten–including my breastfed baby. He is a completely different person when I am not eating corn. He’s not grouchy all the time and he actually sleeps!! I also have reason to believe that corn may be part of the cause of my long-standing struggle with depression. Corn allergies are much more common than people realize and I hope soon labels will add corn to the allergen alerts to make it easier for everyone to identify the hidden corn in products we eat every day. Best of luck to you and congratulations on saving your baby from unnecessary pain!

  6. I believe my 7 week old son has a corn allergy. W tried every formula on the market, including Alimentum and the prescription hypoallergenic formulas. He only got worse. Cries all the time. Doc said it is acid reflux and gave Zantac and Maalox. My aunt is allergic to corn and mentioned it to me. I found ONE formula that does not have it and it is the ready to feed Alimentum. The powder form that we tried DOES have corn. His Zantac and Maalox also have a corn derivative. My concern is that if it is a corn allergy, then what fever reducers or other cold and such medicines can I give him in the future since Tylenol and Motrin and all cold stuff has some form of corn in it?????

  7. Stacy, the absolute best resource I can point you to is the Avoiding Corn forums. The people who make up this community are a wealth of knowledge and can advise you — among other things — about compounding pharmacies where you can have medications custom-made without the corn-based fillers. Best of luck.

  8. My 2 youngest children have delayed reactions to corn and corn derivatives. My one daughter has eczema, diarrhea, stomach aches, and hyperactivity. My other daughter experiences eczema, stomach aches, and constipation with corn consumption. Avoiding corn and corn derivatives completely relieves their symptoms.
    They both were breast fed. However, I later realized both were exposed to corn from a young age since the vitamin D drops I was administering to them daily were derived from corn. Since I was quite ill after my third child was born (with undiagnosed CD), I gave my youngest some formula starting at about 2 months of age and later realized that it contained corn as well. A pediatrician couldn’t find the cause and only cremes for the eczema and laxatives for the constipation were ordered.
    Corn is in many processed foods. There are corn allergy websites that will list all the key words to look for on ingredient labels. Also be aware that many intravenous fluids in hospitals have ingredients derived from corn. Any IV fluids containing dextrose generally are derived from corn. You can ask the MD to use ringers lactate or normal saline solutions. Having an allergy bracelet with “no dextrose” on it may be helpful just incase your child is taken to the ER without you (EX. if an accident happens on a school trip).
    Also be aware of 1%, 2%, and skim milk which can contain corn oil to carry the fat soluble vitamins. Regular table salt can also be coated with dextrose to stabilize the iodine. We use sea salt and whole organic milk.
    Thank you for posting this article. It helps to increase awareness about corn allergies/sensitivities and the variety of symptoms it can cause. My children only had their symptoms diagnosed, not the cause. I figured out their sensitivities by using an elimination diet. Find a MD that is knowledgeable about food allergies.
    Good luck everyone,

  9. Regarding Similac formulas:

    The ONLY formula that they make and that they will claim is 100% corn free is the Alimentum Ready to Feed. The powder uses Maltodextrin as the carbohydrate but the RTF is Sucrose. I confirmed this by calling Abbot Laboratories and asking them. Similac Advanced Early Shield does not list it on the ingredients but the extremely helpful lady I talked to told me that they use Dextrose as a carrier for certain vitamins and minerals. I have to assume this is true of other companies too. It was somewhat dumb luck and then trial to find out that our daughter became a different child on the Alimentum RTF because I simply refused to buy the “colic” label that is given to infants that cry all the time. Crying is an effect of a cause and I was determined to find the cause. At some point I will try an Organic corn free formula (Natures One: Babys Only Organic is. I called them too) but I need to let her have some peace for a while.

  10. Wow. I wish I had woken up to this 4 years ago when my oldest was a “colic” baby. We switched formula many times thinking it was the cause and it wasn’t until we switched to soy at 5 months that her colic slowed.

    Fast forward to when she was 23 months and started eating popcorn. She had night terrors (so we thought) every night that she ate popcorn. We had no idea it was the popcorn and finally linked the 2 after weeks of sleepless nights. Took the popcorn away, no more “night terrors”.

    My daughter is 4.5 now and has a distended belly (always had) that her ped tells me is ok. I don’t buy it, it’s not at all natural and looks rather painful. We’ve always thought she was a “spirited” child but I strongly believe she acts out due to discomfort that she cannot verbalize after living with it her whole life.

    We’re now trying to eliminate corn and corn derived products from her diet but it seems like it’s in almost everything.

    Hopefully all of you are doing well now and have answers! We’re just starting down this path and it’s intimidating.

  11. When you went completely of corn, did that include foods that had corn syrup… I think I’m experiencing something similar with my daughter.

  12. Wow, this is great information. My second son has really bad acid reflux and the doctor told me to take out dairy in my diet and a perscription but it did not get better. It was only after reading these posts and me not eating corn chips that my son can now sleep. Everyone told me oh it is just colic and it will go away but I felt it was someting since my first son was breast feed and had no problems. My husband was telling me that he talked to a few people and it would go away in a few months to years. However, I knew he was in pain and needed it fixed asap for his and my sake. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS DONE THE RESEARCH ABOVE!!

  13. Oh my goodness, thank you for this post! My daughter started having weird, mucousy poop at three weeks old. I did my research and knew she must have a food sensitivity. However, two doctors told me not to worry about the issue because my baby was growing and seemed happy overall. A lactation consultant suggested eliminating dairy (since it’s the most common problem for young babies), which I did to no avail, so she also told me not to worry about it. I tried an elimination diet early on, but only made it a few days because I wasn’t taking in nearly enough calories. Next, I began eliminating whole food groups, one at a time, for two weeks each. After some confusing results, I tried a slightly modified elimination diet again for about two and a half weeks. When my baby girl was almost five months old (!), I finally knew for sure the sensitivity was to corn. Now, I avoid corn and corn derivatives. I’ve found that I can eat a tiny bit of a corn product (say, two small tortillas with baking powder in them) but that more than that will mean mucous–and often blood–in my baby’s poop. Thankfully, my little one has never been gassy or seemed to be in pain from her sensitivity, but I couldn’t in good conscience continue eating corn knowing that it creates problems in her tiny system. Did your daughter eventually outgrow this problem? If so, when? Thanks again!

  14. Thanks to all who have posted. I have had the same issue with my 9 month old every since she turn 6 months. She never seemed to have any tummy pains, but she had very mucousy and diarrhea stools. The Dr. gave us Neocate to try and he told me to just stop breastfeeding. After a few attempts to stop breastfeeding “cold turkey” style and listening to her cry, I decided to eliminate all allergens from my diet. I was already gluten and dairy free, so I cut out corn, soy and eggs….for two days now, we have had no diarrhea. Still holding my breath, but I think it was the corn 🙂

  15. Cynthia, good luck! Good for you for not giving up breastfeeding!

  16. Just wondering…..when you say corn allergy does this include all corn products??
    I find that a lot of products that are gluten free have got corn flour/corn starch in them.
    I know my son has a problem with corn (among a lot of other things) but I am not sure if I should try corn starches????

  17. @Sheri, my daughter seems to have outgrown the corn issue, but we had problems with pretty much all corn. For example, Horizon Vitamin D whole milk is corn free, but one time I accidentally grabbed the 2%. I called the company after my daughter had mucousy poop, and they said one of the sources for their Vitamin A came from corn. I think it just depends on the individual. I would keep in mind: There’s a great list of corn derivatives there.

  18. Hi! I am so happy that you wrote this. I have a severe gluten allergy (as well as several others) and was hoping that I wouldn’t have passed anything on to my son. Unfortunately, we found out early on that he was dairy and soy allergic. I realize that there is still something in my diet that is causing issues, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then I ate corn on the cob one night and his poop got worse. It was darker, more peanut butter consistency, and mucous-y! I thought he was going to scream his head off for days because of the severe gas problems. I decided to cut out corn. I noticed an immediate change. However, I realize there is still corn in his diaper rash cream (we cloth diaper) and his wash and lotion. What would you recommend? I can’t really find anything without GLUTEN, DAIRY, SOY and CORN!!!

  19. My breastfed baby girl started having ‘radioactive green’ stools, sometimes with large balls of mucus (larger than a pea) and sometimes just streaks of mucus. It wasn’t every diaper. This evolved into very painful gas that would wake her from a deep sleep and make her cry out in pain. She only cried for seconds at a time so she technically wasn’t colicky but we knew something was wrong.

    I eliminated dairy and eggs first which did not solve the problem. It was so hard to tell because she would go a day or two without a green diaper but it always came back. One day I ate whole kernel corn and a piece of cornbread and within a couple hours it was bright green: that is when I knew.

    Since solving the puzzle I have discovered corn hidden in a lot of foods. Orowheat “Whole Wheat” bread contains corn starch, lots of cereals have corn, they sprinkle cornmeal on the bottoms of some pizza and bagels, they dust ciabatta bread with corn starch–all of these foods have given me mucusy green poops with bad gas but despite occasional surprises she is much happier. I’m not going to bother with allergy testing and–just do what works for your baby.

  20. I am just researching this again, because I feel almost in disbelief that my baby girl is allergic to corn.

    My son, who is two now, is allergic to wheat and sensitive to gluten, found out through breastfeeding him as a newborn.

    Now my second baby is allergic to corn so I’ve eliminated it from my diet completely, and already made the lifestyle change to have a gluten/wheat free house.

    It’s a wild ride, but worth it. I also didn’t buy the “colicky” advice. My poor baby reacted so badly.

    I guess I’m reassuring myself by reading this :):) it’s not just us!!

  21. I was already gluten, dairy and egg free when my daughter was born so I knew it wasn’t any of those foods when she started to react to something in my breastmilk at three months. It started with green mucousy stools and gas/stomach discomfort and eventually turned into a full body rash and swollen eyes. Given my food allergy history, I pretty much knew right away that she was reacting to something in my breastmilk. Two doctors I took her to completely dismissed that and wrote a prescription for streroid cream because it was “just excema”!
    I was not about to settle for that explanation so I decided to do an elimination diet. Within three days all symptoms were completely gone. My milk supply started to go way down on the diet so I started adding food
    In quicker than I probably should have and symptoms returned. Finally I narrowed it down to corn and I am still learning and struggling with this and my daughter is 15 months old now. She has taken very, very slowly to solids and is very small. Frankly, I am scared to feed her much of anything because I don’t know how severe her allergy might be. She could conceivably react to vegetables and meats if it is severe enough due to the waxes, gasses and washes they use. She still nurses frequently throughout the day and will react to very small amounts of corn derivatives if I accidently eat something wrong. She had an inhalation reaction a few weeks ago which was scary. We have an appointment with a pediatric food allergest in less than a month and are praying for help and that it isn’t a super severe allergy. I just wanted to post this to let others know, like the person who posted before me, that there are definitely moms struggling with this.

  22. Thank you so much to all of you who have posted! Doctors have told us over and over that it’s just eczema for my 4m old son. After one pediatric dermatologist and three pediatric allergists we have now have scratch test results tht confirm peanut dairy corn shellfish chicken beef and tomato allergy:( out of everything the corn is the hardest to get out of my milk!!! I’ve been struggling with the idea of switching to formula but you guys are giving me hope to continue breastfeeding. It makes me so angry how many products are full of corn with different names. I hope one day they can label things properly for this horrible allergy!