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When Autoimmune Diseases Affect Babies

Nov 14, 2018Health Focus

Immediately after Sarah Jones gave birth to her second child, a son named Carter, she knew something was wrong.  “He wouldn’t stop crying, he struggled to eat and sleep, he was unable to relax—and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “He would arch his little back and scream. I knew there was something wrong, but I had no idea how to help him.

“I took him to see so many different doctors and specialists that I couldn’t even guess the number,” she said. “They diagnosed reflux, colic several times, and I was told over and over that he would simply grow out of it—that he was just going through a stage.”

Meanwhile, every day Carter was suffering; he ate little, he slept in only 20-minute intervals, and he always seemed to be in pain. He developed asthma and eczema. He had recurring ear and sinus infections requiring antibiotics eight to 10 times a year, and he developed severe pain when urinating. “Several doctors told me the problem was due to my inexperience as a mother,” she retorted. “I was told to take him off dairy and gluten. We tested for allergies, but to no avail, and nothing was helping my baby boy’s agony.”

Carter was taken to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for a second visit. Only after insisting upon more tests, finally, Sarah got what she wanted. “Even the endoscopy doctor at Primary’s asked me if I really wanted to do more testing, telling me that they probably wouldn’t find anything and that it would be stressful for Carter. But I insisted—we had to find out what was wrong because he was in agony every day and I wanted to find some way for him to have the relief that he deserved.” 

This time, Sarah finally got some of the answers she was looking for. Primary’s called and told her that Carter had a severe case of Celiac disease—an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to ongoing damage in the small intestine and decreases the absorption of nutrients in the body.

Armed with Carter’s diagnosis, now Sarah had to find out how to treat him. Primary Children’s Hospital sent her to a specialist in Boise, Idaho, who helped eliminate a few food items, but the progress was extremely slow, and then it stopped. Despite avoiding gluten, he wasn’t getting better. If he got even the smallest amount of gluten, he would sit and hit his head against the wall, becoming violent when we tried to stop him. Developmentally, both physically and mentally, little Carter wasn’t thriving, and now the couple had a massive medical debt to deal with.

“The specialists’ told me they really couldn’t do anything more for him, so I began to do my own research,” she said. “I met with seven different dieticians, each with a completely different idea on what I should try.”

At fourteen months, Sarah and her husband hit a wall. “We were so desperate to help Carter,” she said. “We finally contacted Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, looking for help. We couldn’t afford it, but we were about to get on a plane and fly out there when a friend recommended Dr. David Bilstrom.”

David J. Bilstrom, MD, is the Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine in Blackfoot, Idaho. Dr. Bilstrom is quadruple board certified in Functional and Regenerative Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Medical Acupuncture.

Sarah said, “I was initially hesitant. I’d heard of functional medicine, but in my mind, it was a lot like naturopathy, and after all the physicians I’d already seen, I didn’t think that would help Carter, but I was so desperate, I decided to take a chance.”

“We took Carter for our initial consultation and Dr. Bilstrom asked us so many questions. Having looked over Carter’s medical history quite extensively, he knew what Carter needed immediately. After so many doctors telling us there was nothing they could do, this physician was advocating for our son.

Dr. Bilstrom told us we weren’t going to do trial and error,” Sarah said. “He wanted to do a full blood work up, which is exactly what I’d wanted other doctors to do instead of guessing at what might be wrong. When we went to our second appointment, Dr. Bilstrom had answers! We already knew he was suffering from Celiac, but he told us Carter was severely malnourished, he had ‘off the charts’ blood issues, he had already developed a second autoimmune disease called Hashimoto disease, and was developing type 1 diabetes. It was overwhelming, but I was immediately thankful that we had found someone who could help Carter.

“Dr. Bilstrom gave us a list of things to start with—none of which was medication,” Sarah said. “He wanted to use natural processes to heal Carter’s little body, along with specific vitamins and supplements. We did everything Dr. Bilstrom told us to do, to a T. And Carter got better and better!

“Now a little over two years later, our four-year-old son is no longer an emotional and physical wreck but a happy, thriving little boy,” Sarah said. “We are beginning to reintroduce him to different foods now that he is doing so well.”

Sarah says her family’s world flipped upside down for nearly two years, but now the whole family eats clean and they are all doing better.

“Dr. Bilstrom changed our lives so much. If you don’t know who to turn to, turn to Dr. Bilstrom!”

About David J. Bilstrom, MD

Dr. Bilstrom is Director of the International Autoimmune Institute & Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine, which is the first medical center in the country to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. It is also the first to use nature, and its ability to improve human health and well-being, as an integral part of a wellness program.

Taking the mind, body, and spirit into consideration, Dr. Bilstrom understands firsthand the benefits integrated medicine can provide to patients. He is quadruple board certified in Functional and Regenerative Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Medical Acupuncture. He has extensive experience in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, Acupuncture, Integrative Medicine, and Complementary and Alternative Medicines.

Dr. Bilstrom works closely with experts in a number of medical specialties to evaluate, diagnose and treat chronic and autoimmune diseases. He is always welcoming new patients at his office within the Bingham Specialty Plaza in Blackfoot. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (208) 782-2444.

Office Location

Bingham Specialty Plaza
326 Poplar Street
Blackfoot, ID
P: (208) 782-2444

www.BinghamMemorial.org/Functional-Medicine