5. The Infant And The Family
Students taking this course in Life Science are already quite knowledgeable about the necessity for proper prenatal care and well-versed in how to care properly for many of the dietary and other needs of young infants. It is, therefore, the purpose of this lesson to address some other areas of concern that may arise from time to time as the practicing Hygienist serves the needs of his clients who have the care and nurture of infants as their responsibility.
There are endless problems that can arise from time to time and, obviously, it would be impossible to provide counsel in each and all of these. At times we are called upon to advise parents with children suffering from either physical or mental impairment. Family conflicts can arise upon occasion, often provoked by illness of the infant. Sometimes conflicts can also arise when one parent becomes interested in Natural Hygiene while the other parent believes in the more orthodox approach to the care and feeding of infants.
In any event we will present in this lesson a few actual case studies and hopefully, from these we can derive some benefit ourselves which can later be applied in actual practice or in our own home with our own infants.
5.1 Emergency Service Calls
Practitioners are often called upon for emergency service. Several years ago we recall receiving a telephone call from a highly-distraught mother in Texas. Her young son, just three weeks old, had been crying and colicky ever since being released from the hospital where the birthing had taken place. The advice of her pediatrician had proved useless and both she and her husband had been taking turns walking the floor every night. Both, needless to say, were exhausted and ready to panic.
We inquired of the young mother as to the child's feeding program and were told that the child was being fed a formula prescribed by the doctor every two hours and that one feeding consisted of a rice gruel! Since the mother was unable to nurse the child, we advised her to purchase raw goat's milk, this being available were she lived, and to dilute it half and half with distilled water. We suggested she obtain some lactose at a pharmacy or health food store and to add a suitable amount of the sugar to the water-milk mixture. Three feedings of the new formula were to be spaced at six-hour intervals. No rice gruel was to be given the child. We pointed out to the mother that the infant at this age is not physiologically equipped to cope well with starch and that there was little doubt in our minds that part of the child's uneasiness was due to gas arising from the action of ferments on the starch.
There were also to be feedings of four ounces of freshly squeezed fruit juice spaced between the morning and noon feeding and again between the noon and evening feedings. The last feeding was to be at six p.m. whereupon the child was to be put down to sleep for the night.
In three days, the mother called advising us that the child was now sleeping peacefully and so were she and her husband! Hygienists are fully cognizant of the fact that the best food for an infant is mother's own milk but, lacking a goodly supply, the Hygienist should be prepared to counsel parents as to alternative methods of feeding and caring for infants. In this case, both parents were very supportive and no further problems arose.
Another time, a mother telephoned us at two o'clock in the morning, hysterical with fear. It seemed that her baby had swallowed a penny! At least the mother was unable to find the coin and was certain that the baby had picked it up. We advised this new mother that in due course, by the nature of things, the penny would wind its way harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract and she would find it soon in the fecal discharge. Late the next day we received the report: the penny had been found.
There was a sequel to this report. Later the father confided to us that both he and his wife had been so terrified that they had bundled up the child and driven pell mell to the hospital emergency clinic where they received the same advice. Whereupon they had returned home to settle down for what remained of the night!
Hygienists must rely often on their knowledge of nature's method of isolating or eliminating foreign objects that enter the intestinal canal by accident, and sometimes refrain from taking any action until the evidence overwhelmingly supports intervention of another and more drastic nature.
5.2 Serious Long-Term Problems
Hygienists are sometimes also called upon to advise parents facing much more serious problems than a swallowed penny; such problems as deafness, blindness, deformities of one kind or another. It is well, therefore, for the Hygienic practitioner to familiarize himself with the resources available which are specifically geared to serve these children and their parents and we strongly suggest that highly-skilled personnel work with both parents and children. Generally such personnel are available either in the immediate community of residence or in the closest town of any size.
We refer, of course, to such specialists as speech and language pathologists, one of whom has been a student of ours here in Tucson for some time: to physical therapists who can often do wonders in developing better coordination in one or several limbs where little or none has existed prior to their working with the child. There are schools for the blind and deaf, and even for braindamaged children. Such facilities should be sought out so that the practitioner can become knowledgeable about what is being offered and those in charge should be advised of the services offered by the Hygienist. They should be assured of full cooperation on the part of the Hygienist.
Many of these services for handicapped or disabled children are subsidized either by private grants or by the government, either state or federal or both. The subsidization of services can sometimes prove a minor obstacle in that Hygienic methods may run contrary to that generally approved by orthodoxy. This is especially the case in methods of feeding. However, sometimes, in desperation, parents will turn to a Hygienist because other methods have failed. Hopefully, with care and encouragement, we can perhaps play a constructive role if we actively cooperate.
5.3 Case Study — Jana
One such case comes to mind in which we were unsuccessful. However, we cite it here to make a point, as we shall see.
The case of which we speak involved a 2 1/2-year-old girl referred to us by a child service agency. The mother of this child, which was still considered a "borderline" infant, operated a nursery school.
Actually, the baby had been brought up within the confines of the nursery where she received much the same care and consideration accorded the paying guests; and little more.
Little Jana, as she was called, was given the bottle and fed a formula from birth. Now, her food intake resembled what so many little children, today, are unfortunately fed and, we might say, with similar results. For breakfast, the youngster was given either a single fried egg with toast and jelly or, occasionally, some canned orange juice with a boxed cereal and milk.
At 10 a.m. all the children at the nursery, including Jana, were given a popular chemicalized drink plus a cookie or two, after which they all stretched out on the floor and had a nap. At noon, they gathered together for a lunch which, more often then not, consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread and a glass of milk. They frequently had "Twinkies" for dessert; occasionally, an apple, but since the children in the nursery preferred the sweets, they usually received them.
At mid-afternoon, the children again received either the drink of the morning, a glass of canned fruit juice of some kind, or milk sparked with a teaspoon or so of a popular prepared chocolate mix. After this, the inevitable sweet cookies were passed.
At dinner time, the father and mother sat down with their little one to the family dinner. Little Jana ate whatever was put on the table. The meal followed the familiar pattern of most American families who eat at home: some kind of meat served with either a packaged rice mix or whipped potatoes made from a packaged mix. Sometimes there were vegetables, usually canned. There was plenty of white bread and margarine available plus jellies or jams. Pepper, salt, mustard and the usual condiments were common. Of course, ice cream was the family's favorite dessert, always served with cookies.
When mother was too tired after her day at the nursery, the family usually went out to McDonald's for a hamburger, french fries and cokes. The mother told us that Jana really liked to go to McDonald's.
This child was brought to us because she was hyper-kinetic, and also because she had behavior problems. She was unable to adjust to children of like age, biting and scratching them. When frustrated, she screamed and had temper tantrums. In fact, she became almost uncontrolable, not stopping her physical and emotional activity until she would fall down in exhaustion.
The mother was at least fifty pounds overweight and the father had been diagnosed as having diabetic tendencies. Both were using prescription drugs.
Jana was definitely a victim of child abuse. In the first place, the responsibility of bringing a child into the world had never become a conscious image in the parents' minds before she was conceived. Both the parents had severe physical disabilities. Next, following birth, the child was not nursed because the mother thought she had other more important responsibilities, namely her work at the nursery.
Obviously the child received another kind of abuse because she remained indoors except for very brief periods when the children all went out-of-doors to play. But, since Jana could not get along with the other children, she frequently remained indoors on these occasions as well. Therefore, she lacked sufficient sunshine and/or exercise. Obviously, too, she was being poorly fed. It was little wonder that she had been brought to the attention of the child care agency by the mother who felt she could no longer put up with her child's behavioral problems.
We suggested to the case worker and to the mother that radical changes both in food intake and lifestyle were of immediate concern. Both agreed to follow our recommendations, whereupon we worked out a suitable feeding schedule with precise instructions as to preparation and types of foods to be served. We also worked up a program for recreation and exercise, for getting out-of-doors at suitable intervals. We set forth a list of "No-No's," and off the little child and adults went with instructions to return in four weeks.
The appointment was never kept. The case worker advised us that the child's mother had said the regiment was too strict and that, busy as she was, she couldn't possibly follow it. So, you see, in this case, to our regret, we were unable to witness a successful conclusion.
But, did we fail? No, to the contrary, the failure here belongs to Jana's family. It is a failure of neglect, one that will determine a future of failures for little Jana. However, we can learn from this case. Perhaps we failed to probe deeply enough on the first encounter, greatly concerned as we were about the child's immediate welfare. Perhaps we went too far and too fast. There is a lesson to be learned here. After the fact, that is, after a case has been resolved, either successfully or unsuccessfully, it is always well to review the suggestions we have made, to see where we may have erred and what we might have done differently which could have brought about a more salubrious conclusion, if such were indeed possible. The point we make, of course, is that all Hygienic practitioners must learn from their failures as well as from their successes. Generally, the successes will occur far more frequently than the failures!
In Jana's case, the child received no support from her family, but in the story of the Albert family we begin to see just how important the cooperation of the family is to the successful application of Hygienic principles when working with any member of the family, but especially when we work with very little children who are completely dependent upon the good works of their parents. This case study is especially interesting because, as the student will see, it should have failed, but it didn't.
5.4 Case Study — Maura and Jerry
At age 18 Maura married Jerry, age 51. Practically no one thought this union would work, but they were all wrong, for it turned out to be a perfect match.
Jerry was a loner of many years standing. He had been married previously, had fathered several children, and had then been divorced. A highly-intellectual man, a holder of advanced degrees in engineering, Jerry had deserted the more traditional ways of living in favor of a "back-to-earth" lifestyle.
Maura could best be described as a "sweet young thing," totally without worldliness. Her education had apparently ended when she finished high school. She was looking for a "father image," and found it in her much older husband.
Jerry did not choose to enter the marketplace to support his wife, who had no special skills of her own. He chose, instead, to do odd jobs for ranchers, to build greenhouses and work in gardens.
When this newly-married couple found that Maura was to give birth to a child, they sought around for a suitable health advisor. Since Jerry was a "naturalist,'' in the sense that he raised the family's food and avoided processed food of any kind, he was determined to have nothing to do with medical tinkerers. He was referred to us and Maura dutifully came along.
We learned their home was a cabin in the country where they lived and worked as much as possible out-of-doors. They both wanted sound prenatal care for their child. As a consequence, we placed Maura on a well-constructed Hygienic pregnancy diet such as has been outlined in previous lessons and, in due course, she gave birth to a fine son whom she nursed until about the fourteenth month when he was weaned.
After our initial contact with Maura and Jerry we did not hear from them again although we did have a casual meeting one day in a supermarket at which time they happily displayed the baby. They told us the birthing had been uneventful, had taken place at home, and that subsequently there had been few problems with the infant. The young couple looked obviously happy and well. The baby? He was fantastic!
After more than two years had passed, Maura called to make an appointment. She had just given birth to another son whom she was also nursing but she was having some problems which she wished to discuss with us.
Both Jerry and Maura came but how different this occasion was from the first! The marriage had been a remarkable success. Maura had been good for Jerry, not the other way around! Instead of his former unconventional and often wrinkled attire, Jerry appeared at the consultation dressed in a business suit.
We learned that he was now employed as an engineer in an executive capacity. He and Maura had purchased a lovely home on the outskirts of the community where they lived and both appeared to be very happy in their relationship.
Their one concern was their children. The new baby was colicky most of the time, often refusing the nipple and was fretful at night. While the first son had developed well, having a fine bony structure, clear blue eyes, finely-grained complexion, the second child was decidedly overweight, almost chubby; also, he was sometimes cranky which, according to his father, was not his customary behavior.
Upon questioning, we learned that it was the same story which Hygienists hear so often in dealing with infants and young children. Parents become overly solicitous. They listen to their neighbors and begin to believe that perhaps "they" do know best. This is what happened to this couple. They had overfed, over fondled and were guilty of constantly exciting the nervous structures of their children. Someone had told Maura, for example, that her new baby MUST have some cereal and she had succumbed to the friendly urging. Neighboring mothers met for coffee and doughnuts and fed the little ones "Kool-Aid" or some similar drink. She listened to the "Go on, Maura, it's good or him!" So, little Jerry, or "J-J" for short, frequently lad this sugared drink. He also ate bread, whole wheat, of course; with butter, pure and raw, of course; and other nonfoods. Jerry, Maura and especially the little ones were beginning to reap the rewards of their foolishness.
Then began a return to basics, as the saying goes. We reminded the parents once again of the fact that young children cannot process starch and that, if they wanted two healthy children, they would have to supply their biological needs in a manner more appropriate to the digestive equipment of their immature bodies. We set up feeding programs for both children and decided to supply one for he parents, too!
In this case we had full cooperation from two very intelligent and caring parents. The follow-through has been magnificent thus far and we can foresee no future problems under normal circumstances. This should be a successful family. The children, through careful nurturing and all other things being precisely equal, will have a proper foundation laid for a lifetime of happy, joyful and relatively disease-free living.
5.5 Case Study — Ann Marie
We were only observers in this next case study. We were present on occasion from before the baby was born, but we will not be present at the conclusion of the story although we can predict with some degree of certainty what is likely to happen.
Parents can often unknowingly abuse their children. A prime example of this kind of innocent but extremely harmful child abuse is the topic of this part of our discussion. The wife of the owner of a print shop became pregnant and all through the pregnancy, up to a week before the birthing was to take place, Ann Marie—the mother-to-be, worked eight or more hours in the plant. Here she was subjected to the impact of multiple stressors such as keeping of the books, directing a considerable work force; walking, walking, walking, all the time in an atmosphere polluted with many and varied chemicals; she had the responsibility of ordering supplies and keeping an inventory as well as innumerable other duties associated with operating a business of this kind and magnitude. Additionally, she did her best to maintain a functioning household. She told Dr. Elizabeth that she just fell into bed every night with exhaustion.
Two weeks after the birth of her son, Ann returned to work. She brought her new baby along! The infant was fed by formula, either carried around the premises draped over the shoulder of one or the other of his parents or was placed first in an infant carriage and, later, in a playpen set right in the middle of the shop. We rarely saw this infant without either a bottle or a pacifier in his tiny mouth. You see, when he was not so pacified, he cried—and loudly. This disturbed both the help and the customers.
For eight hours a day and six days a week, this child was and still is subjected to the nerve destroying assaults of multiple strong incandescent lights, of radiation emanating from all kinds of quick print machines, the constant whirring of the printing presses, the chatter of the work-force and of the customers, of irregular and incorrect feedings, and the constant picking up and putting down every time a cry is heard, this being frequently.
We have watched this child become a fat butterball with puffy, constantly red and teary eyes and overly-flushed complexion. What the future course and health of this child will be, we can, of course, only conjecture but we do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that intense damage is being perpetrated upon this child which will hamper all his future life. The parents in this case are exchanging the future welfare of their only child for economic security and comfort, a poor exchange, indeed.
As Hygienists we must be ever alert to the possibility of past as well as present abuses when we are asked to advise on infant care, in this last case, our advice has not been sought but, as Hygienists, we can learn much by observation.
When infants and young children were brought to us with problems, we must search for the hidden causes, we must ask questions of both parents, if at all possible, not just of the mother. We should delve into past history to the extent possible in order to proffer advice intelligently. Should the infant in this last case become visibly ill, we can readily see that much more could be involved than just the feeding of the child. When changes in the diet do not solve the immediate problem, then perhaps it is time to delve a little deeper for the real cause or multiple causes of the child's discomfort.
Home > Lesson 80 - Adjustment To Hygienic Living Within The Family
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