Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kids-on-a-Plane: WestJet forgets about an unaccompanied minor

The first time I travelled alone on a plane, I was 12. I'm glad I WestJet wasn't around at the time.

The parents of a five-year-old girl travelling alone are furious with WestJet for breaking its own guidelines and allowing a stranger to accompany the child off a flight.

Sara-Maude St-Louis, 5, was taking her first plane ride Thursday from Edmonton, where she lives with her mother, to Montreal to see her father. The parents paid a special fee to ensure someone from the airline would look after her.
Read m0re (

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Continuing Story of Zen Girl's Food Intolerance.... the iFood Edition

We are declaring that carrots are a success. We saw two pinprick-sized spots of blood in Zen Girl's diaper this week, but there was no corresponding change in behaviour and the blood was not persistent and did not worsen.

This means that it's time for a new food, and I wanted to be sure that we could give it to her for a few days before the holidays (when speaking to/seeing an actual staff physician is impossible).

So tomorrow moeining, applesauce.. here's hoping.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Toy related dealths


22 Children Died Toy-Related Deaths In 2006


Toy injuries were responsible for 22 deaths and 220,500 emergency room visits in 2006, according to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The report looked at injuries affecting children under 15 and found that most deaths were caused by asphyxiation or collisions associated with riding toys, scooters, toy pegs, and rubber balls.

Consumer Reports analyzed the full CPSC report:

  • Non-motorized scooters: Three deaths occurred when children either hit or were hit by an automobile. The children ranged in age from six to 13 years.
  • Toy nails and pegs: Three children died when they choked on or aspirated plastic nails or pegs. One 19-month-old boy died after choking on an oversized plastic nail from a toy workbench. A second boy, 2, died when he fell while running with a toy nail; the nail got wedged in the back of his throat. Another two-year-old suddenly started coughing and stopped breathing. He died at the hospital where an autopsy showed a plastic peg from a toy had become lodged in his left bronchus.
  • Rubber balls: Three children died when they either aspirated or choked on small rubber balls. Two of the children who choked on small rubber balls were about one year old while the third child was an autistic eight-year-old who aspirated a rubber ball.
  • Powered riding toys: There were three fatalities. A boy, 3, was riding a battery-powered toy four-wheeler unsupervised and fell into a pond. A girl, 2, was riding her battery-powered toy truck as her family walked along on a sidewalk; a speeding car hit and killed her. A 6-year-old died when the cape of his costume became entangled in the axle of the gasoline-powered ATV he was riding and strangled him.
  • Tricycles: There were two fatalities. In separate incidents, a three-year-old female and a three-year-old male fell into the family in-ground swimming pool while riding a tricycle and drowned.
  • Stuffed toys: There were two deaths associated with stuffed toys . A six-month-old fell off the parents' bed into a pile of stuffed animals and suffocated A three-month-old fell off a bed into a container of stuffed toys and suffocated.
  • Other balls: There were two deaths from unspecified types of balls. One struck a girl, 10, while she was playing at school; she died of inter-cerebral hemorrhage. A 17-month-old was run over when he followed the ball with which he was playing as it rolled behind a truck.
  • Balloons: A nine-month-old female died of upper airway obstruction caused by an uninflated balloon.
  • Rubber darts: A 10-year-old boy died from aspirating a rubber dart. He had been chewing on a toy gun dart when he had trouble breathing and collapsed. At the ER, he was found to have a rubber dart in his right lung.
  • Toy organizer: A nine-month-old, found underneath a wooden toy organizer, died of neck compression.
  • Unspecified: A seven-year-old boy was chewing on a plastic toy when a small part of the toy broke off and became lodged in his throat. He died of asphyxia.
The CPSC cautions that toys were associated with these incidents, but not necessarily their cause. Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries, Calendar Year 2006 (pdf) [CPSC]
CPSC: 22 children died in toy-related deaths in 2006 [Consumer Reports]
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekly Science Round Up

Excessive Tantrums In Preschoolers May Indicate Serious Mental Health Problems
ScienceDaily (2007-12-13) -- Certain types of tantrums in preschoolers may be a sign of serious emotional or behavioral problems. Although temper tantrums are common and normal in young children, the researchers found that long, frequent, violent and/or self-destructive tantrums may indicate the presence of psychiatric illness.

Even Low Lead Exposure Linked To ADHD
ScienceDaily (2007-12-06) -- Very low levels of lead in the blood -- previously believed to be safe -- could be contributing to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The research findings support a growing body of national evidence suggesting there is no safe level of lead in the blood. Other studies show a link between low-level lead exposure and lower IQ.

Heavy Traffic Makes Breathing A Burden In Children

ScienceDaily (2007-12-14) -- Exposure to traffic pollution may increase respiratory problems and reduce lung volumes in children with asthma, according to researchers who studied the effects of road and traffic density on children's lung function and respiratory symptoms in the border town of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Continuing Story of Zen Girl's Food Intolerance.

The squeaky parents get the grease. In spite of Dr. L.'s threat that getting a second GI opinion for Zen Girl would take six months, we had our care transferred to a new GI this week (same hospital). It seems that our letter to the Ombudsman helped move things along.
Our new doctor, Dr. M. (GI), was kind, thorough, respectful and explained a great deal. We decided together that in order to help ZG develop her oral motor skills etc, we would start trying foods again. In stead of any cereals, we skipped right to carrots.

Today was day 4 of carrots. We saw a speck of blood yesterday - literally a pinprick, that we had to look very hard to find - but we decided to persist. If the blood is due to food sensitivity, it should persist or increase, and if it does we will stop the food and she will have to have an endoscopy. However, today there was no blood in her stool. If she continues blood-free over the weekend, we will try apples on Monday.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Continuing Story of Zen Girl's Food intolerances

I know it's been quiet in my virtual world for a while, but in the real world it's been insane.  We're still trying to find a food that Zen Girl can tolerate (we're on day 2 of carrots now - so far so good) and we had to write a letter to the Ombudsman at the Children's Hospital and get ZG's care transferred to a new GI.... here is part of the letter:

What follows is our account of O.’s food intolerances and our interactions with Dr. L..


Our first encounter with Dr. L. arose through a visit to the ER in late July 2007.  Our pediatrician (Dr. M.) was away on holiday and our daughter continued to have blood in her diaper despite being breastfed while C. (the mother) was on a bovine and soy free diet. We had nowhere to turn being a weekend so we visited the emergency room. 


            Dr. L. was on call that night and was consulted by phone.  After hearing the case she instructed the physician to place our daughter on hypoallergenic formula (Alimentum or Nutramingen).  C. was to stop breastfeeding and pump for a few days in order to maintain her milk supply.  This approach was of concern to us, since we had been in contact with the G.I dietician Marie Josée Trempe prior to this visit, via our pediatrician, and she had told us that these formulas contained soybean oil.  Since O. had reacted with blood to trace amounts of soybean oil in C.’s diet, we were very hesitant to expose her to it directly. The emergency room doctor relayed to us that Dr. L. said C. must have accidentally eaten a bovine or soy product.     Our son Lucca had also been bovine-protein intolerant, and C. had been on this restricted diet while breastfeeding him as well.  As a result we had become very adept at checking and rechecking everything that passed C.’s lips.  We assured the ER doctor of this.


We expressed our deep concerns to the ER doctor about giving O. soybean oil and he agreed that breastfeeding was still a reasonable option, for now, as long as C. commenced an even more restricted, allergen free diet (no milk, soy, beef, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, and wheat).  C. started this complete allergen free diet immediately (July 29th, 2007).  This diet was very challenging for C. and our family, but there was no question that if it helped our daughter we would follow it.  At the time we felt it was the best decision to keep O. healthy and growing.


            Early that next week, we were called by Dr. L.’s secretary and given an appointment on August 1st 2007.  We were very happy that we would be receiving some guidance from G.I.  During the visit, Dr. L. suggested that given how sensitive our daughter was she would recommend that we try offering an amino acid-based formula (Neocate) to O..  The dietician had also previously informed us that Neocate contained soy lecithin, which could also provoke a reaction in our daughter.  We informed Dr. L. of our real concerns about switching O. to this formula:


1)      That it contained soy lecithin which we knew our daughter was intolerant to.

2)      That some babies refused this formula due to taste.

3)      That she was growing well on the bovine and soy free diet and that we were eager to see if we could get the bleeding under control with the allergen free diet that had only been fully started on July 29th (4 days earlier).


In addition, Dr. L. suggested that an endoscopy be performed on O., in order to test for signs of food intolerances and to rule out any other potential problems.  The doctor informed us that she had room in her schedule and could perform the test the following day.  Submitting our 2-month old daughter to an invasive procedure required some thought on our part in order to make such an important decision.  When we asked for a few minutes to make our decision, the doctor seemed to get upset and left the room briskly telling us that we were lucky to get our daughter scoped so quickly and that we had better make our decision because if we didn’t show up the next day she would not be able to schedule us for a long time.  We were both very put off by Dr. L.’s defensiveness, and we worried about entrusting her with our daughter’s care.  After a few minutes of discussion we decided that it was in O.’s best interest to have the test done and find out what was going on inside.


            The next day we arrived for the scope and we were warned that we would not be allowed into the room after the procedure unless we promised not to ask any questions and Dr. L. repeated: “And I mean NO questions”.  We were a little taken aback at this threat but new that Dr. L. had to concentrate on her charting during this time.  We also assumed there would be a time to ask any important questions later.  After the scope we both went into the room and she explained quickly what had been observed.  The doctor told us that she had found nodular hyperplasia in the intestines but that she assumed that biopsy results would also indicate eosinophils in the gut.  During our visit with Dr. L. on the previous day, we had been told that nodular hyperplasia was benign and had nothing to do with food intolerance.


O. was then transferred to recovery where we both had time to think about our questions.  The recovery room nurse asked us if we had any questions for Dr. L. and that it would be no problem to get her.  Instead of Dr. L., the GI nurse was sent.  She was helpful, but had very limited knowledge about nodular hyperplasia.  We had no idea how to tell if O. was bleeding from the nodular hyperplasia or the actual intolerance and whether or not there was any correlation between the two.  We left the hospital with no answers because Dr. L. never came to see us.


            The next week she called with the biopsy results and spoke to Philosopher Dad.  He listened and heard her two options: switch to Neocate formula (her first choice) or continue on the allergen free diet with regular weight checks and blood tests.  Philosopher Dad also asked for a way to contact Dr. L. because C., who was not home at the time, would definitely have questions considering she was the one breastfeeding, monitoring diapers, and weight gain.  Dr. L. did not leave a number to reach her.  When C. returned home she tried to contact Dr. L. and left a message with her secretary.  In the days and weeks that followed C. never received a follow up phone call or appointment to discuss the test results and her concerns about Neocate with Dr. L..  She was once again told to contact the G.I. nurse who had no more information than she had had previously.


            During the four months that followed, C. carefully followed the allergen free diet and Dr. M. closely monitored O.’s weight gain and blood results.  At one stage, O.’s weight gain slowed and she even lost a little.  Dr. L. had told us that any problems with O.’s weight gain would be because she was not absorbing nutrients due to her food intolerance.  However, with the help of the Goldfarb Breastfeeding clinic at the Jewish General Hospital, we determined that C.’s milk supply had decreased because O. was sleeping longer stretches and was only feeding four or five times during the day.  C. started taking medication to increase her milk supply and began feeding O. seven to nine times a day.  O. quickly regained her weight and caught up to her growth curve.  To us, this was an example of Dr. L. scaring us into believing that growth issues were only due to food intolerance.  In this specific case the cause was simple and so was the solution.


Throughout this period, we remained in close contact with the dietician who guided us well during this time.  The dietician frequently reminded C. that we had done the best for O. by breastfeeding her while managing to stop her bleeding and preventing other signs of decline. In addition, O.’s blood tests all proved to be normal according to our pediatrician.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and were happy we were able to keep her growing and healthy.  She was meeting all her developmental milestones and was a very happy baby who slept and breastfed well.


            With guidance and encouragement from the dietician we introduced wheat back into C.’s diet in late August (O. was 3 months old).  After eating wheat everyday for two weeks, there continued to be no blood in O.’s stool, and no elevated eosinophils on her blood test.  When O. was four months old we introduced cooked egg in C.’s diet but unfortunately, O. had specks of blood in her stool within 36 hours and the eggs were discontinued.  About two weeks later, fish was introduced into C.’s diet for two weeks with no blood and no elevated eosinophils on her blood tests. 


On the advice of the dietician and Dr. M. we introduced rice cereal (Beechnut Brand) to O. when she was 5 months, one week old.    Within 24 hours she had blood in her diaper. Unfortunately, for the first time since the diet started, C. had by accident eaten a food that had a trace of soybean oil.  The dietician advised us to wait until the blood cleared and then reintroduce the rice cereal, assuming that the soybean oil had caused the reaction, not the cereal.  We did this but within 30 hours O. again had specks of blood.  Marie Josée then advised us to wait two weeks and then reintroduce rice cereal, but to use a different brand.


We reintroduced rice cereal to O. when she was six months old, this time the PC Organic brand.  Within 30 hours O. had blood.  It was still small streaks but a little more than the other times she had bled.


At this point, we were at a loss and scared for O.’s health.  Dr. M. and we were very glad that we finally had our follow up with G.I. the coming week.


            On November 28th, 2007 we had our follow up with Dr. L..  Upon starting the visit we gave her the blood test results that C. had for O..  Dr. L. was clearly annoyed that she had not gotten these before.  We had no idea that Dr. M. had not sent them but we also knew that if there had been a concern, Dr. M. would have communicated with Dr. L..  As Dr. L. flipped through the results she became upset and said in similar words:


 “I thought I told you that you could continue breastfeeding only if she was blood free, growing, AND her blood tests results were fine.  She is anemic and her albumin was low.”


We were both shocked because according to Dr. M., who had been following O. closely, she was doing just fine.  In fact Dr. M. had been extremely happy with the way O. was growing.  More recently she had mentioned that because she was nearing 6 months old, her natural iron stores were depleting, although she did not consider her anemic.  Dr. M. suggested we start iron supplements because she knew we were having trouble finding a cereal that O. could tolerate.


We continued our meeting with Dr. L. telling her about our current concerns about finding O. food she could eat. Dr. L. explained her theory that maybe giving O. Neocate would allow her gut time to heal properly.  She thought that despite normal eosinophils levels (except when eggs were introduced) and weight gain, O. was still being mildly irritated by C.’s breast milk. When food was introduced it irritated her and started the bleeding again.  This made sense to us but we brought up our real concerns about the plan to switch O. to Neocate which had still not been addressed in the four months since our initial visit with Dr. L.:


1)      That it contained soy lecithin and O. was known to be intolerant to trace amounts of that in C.’s diet.

2)      That she may at 6 months old refuse the vile taste of it.


At this point Dr. L. was clearly annoyed with our concerns and rushed to tell us about Neocate Junior which has no soya lecithin and which could be diluted down and flavoured.  She also said in similar words:

 “Yes, she may refuse the taste but that is why I told you when I saw you last that we should put her on it earlier… and anyway, if that doesn’t work we can put her on rice milk”. 


At this point we both were scared with the likely eventuality of rice milk because we knew it had no protein in it and up until now, O. has been reacting with blood to rice cereal. We couldn’t see how rice milk would be a viable option.   Dr. L. clearly did not want to hear our concerns about this and went right to her next discussion. We kept trying to get our questions in but she often cut us off in accusatory, degrading tones that indicated she was not happy we had continued breastfeeding because we had put O. at risk.  She also mentioned in similar words:


“This is a common problem that your daughter has; YOU have made it bigger than it really is.  There are many other babies who have this.”


We were really taken aback by this comment and felt wrongly accused of putting our daughter in harm’s way. From our regular contact with the dietician, we understood that it was very rare for an infant to be so sensitive to so many foods through breast milk.  The dietician had told C. that she was only aware of one other similar case, where a breastfeeding infant had reacted to soy lecithin eaten by its mother.


In order to keep the visit civil we acknowledged that we knew everyone there had the best interests of O. in mind.


At this point Dr. L. suggested that it might be best to perform another endoscopy on O. to see if there was something else going on or if there were still allergens in her gut.  At this point she proceeded to address us in a threatening tone and said in similar words:


“Listen to me, if I am to scope your daughter at all, I want you to agree NOW that if I find allergens in her gut, the feeding plan will be changed to hypoallergenic formula.  If you do not agree NOW to this plan I will not do the scope.  If you do not agree with this  you can ask for a second opinion, but that will take 6 months, and O. doesn’t have 6 months, or you can go to St. Justine, your choice”.


At this point we felt very threatened, and we told her so.  We told her that we wanted the best for O., and if that meant another scope we would agree, but that we felt very uncomfortable agreeing to a treatment plan before we had done the scope and seen the results.  Furthermore we had not felt that our concerns about O. had been addressed at all.  O. was very likely to refuse the vile taste of Neocate or Neocate Junior. Rice milk was not a guaranteed option either because of her recent reaction to rice cereal.   Dr. L.’s lack of a coherent and comprehensive plan left us thinking that we may be coerced into taking our daughter off breast milk, which is making her grow and gain weight, for alternatives that may harm her more. As parents, we will definitely seriously consider the option of switching O. to formula if we can’t find anything safe for O. to eat in the next few weeks or if her condition worsens.  However we don’t want to be threatened that our child will not receive testing that she needs.


After our follow up with Dr. L., we met with Marie Josée, the dietician on her team.  At this point we were both very distraught over the meeting with Doctor L..  C. felt comfortable with Marie Josée and began to cry.  She explained her distress over the threat Dr. L. had made.  Marie Josée clearly expressed to us that for now that breastfeeding was in O.’s best interests and that she was sure we would be able to find foods that she could tolerate.  In speaking with Marie Josée we set out a clear plan; we would wait until she was blood free and then introduce sweet potato for five days, then banana, and then lamb. 


In summary, ever since our first encounter with Dr. L., we have felt that she was frustrated with us, and that we asked too many questions. After carefully considering the advice of Dr. M., Marie Josée the dietician, and Dr. L. we decided to continue breastfeeding.  It was hard to fully understand Dr. L.’s advice because after the testing C. was never given the chance to talk to Dr. L. about her concerns.  Although we might never know, it is possible that we did not make the best decision at the time because of the impossibility of communicating directly with Dr. L..  We want to reiterate that we are not solely set on breastfeeding, especially if we are presented with a well-explained plan that addresses our serious concerns about transfer to hypoallergenic formula. Ultimately, we are scared for our daughter’s health and we want someone who will hear our concerns and clearly explain their recommended course of action.  In the end it is O. who will suffer if we as her parents do not make the right decision because we are not given enough information to make an informed decision.  


Friday, December 07, 2007

Food Allert: Undisclosed Milk in Holiday Fuit Loops


OTTAWA, December 6, 2007 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Kellogg Canada Inc. are warning people with allergies to milk proteins not to consume Kellogg’s Holiday Froot Loops. The affected product may contain milk protein that is not declared on the label.

The affected product, Kellogg’s Holiday Froot Loops, is sold in 425 g package bearing UPC 0 64100 15208 3 and Best Before code 2008 SE 24 KCB002.

This product has been distributed nationally.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumption of this product may cause a severe reaction to those individuals with allergies to milk proteins.

The manufacturer, Kellogg Canada Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Kellogg Canada Inc. at 1-877-675-8777 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday) or via e-mail at

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

New Feature: Food Alerts

We're running a new feature here at Philosopher Dad... Food Alerts.  For the moment it will deal with food recalls and warnings from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  
Please feel free to submit recalls from other countries as well.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button