Dysbiosis and ‘leaky gut': recurrent gastrointestinal infections compromise a young girl’s development.
Twelve year-old Jenny*, was brought to see me as an Integrative GP by her mother. Around a year prior, she had suffered a gastrointestinal illness with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. This had lasted approximately 3 days. Three months later, she had fainted at school then suffered another gastrointestinal type illness.
Since the initial illness she had failed to put on weight and had lost her appetite. She was always slim (her family being of a lean predisposition), but Jenny had started to lose significant weight during this time (3-4kg). She felt tired and unwell plus had poor concentration at school, and couldn’t achieve the sporting level that she had been able to achieve previously.
She had undertaken a panendoscopy which showed slight stomach inflammation. During the procedure, a biopsy for coeliac disease was taken and showed negative.
Some background to Jenny’s development of dysbiosis and leaky gut
Up to the time of her illness, Jenny was a normal child. She had been breastfed for 6 months. She had had glandular fever when she was 5 years old. Helicobacter pylori was found when she was just seven years of age. This had been treated with the usual antibiotics and she had been on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet since then.
Years ago, Jenny’s mother told me that she had worked on a vegetable farm, where sprays were used routinely. Jenny’s siblings were all healthy and thriving. All children had been vaccinated fully.
On examination Jenny weighed 26kg which put her below the third percentile on the weight-for-age scale. Her height was 146cm which placed her on the tenth percentile. All her body systems were normal.
Testing that showed the dysbiosis in detail
She was sent for specific blood tests and a very comprehensive stool test. Blood tests were normal. Her stool test showed Dientamoeba fragilis, a bowel parasite, as well as generally low good bacteria. It also showed fat alabsorption and protein maldigestion.
She was prescribed a protocol of antibiotics for 10 days, targeting the parasite. After this, she was feeling slightly improved but was still tired and had a poor appetite.
One month after the treatment, a further stool culture was taken and it showed no evidence of D. fragilis. Jenny was then started on some very specific probiotic strains, forms of fibre and nutrients that were soothing and healing to her leaky gut, and some digestive enzymes.
After another 2 months of treatment, Jenny’s weight had increased to 26.6kg. Because she was suffering some anxiety after being so unwell for so long, she was put on some specific nutrients for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This was later changed to a multivitamin with gastrointestinal healing amino acids specially formulated for her age group.
By another two weeks her appetite had improved and her weight had increased to 27.1kg. An intestinal permeability test showed gut hyper-permeability; a stool test showed continued low levels of good bacteria so her probiotics and supplements were all continued.
By 12 months post treatment, Jenny’s height was 154cm and weight was 31.1kg. She is now in high school, doing sports and eating well (mother has her on a very healthy diet!). She remains on her various supplements at present with no symptoms of dysbiosis and leaky gut.
*Name has been changed
This case study is for educational purposes only. Results may vary due to individual circumstances.
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