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Does corn syrup relieve constipation?
Q: I am an Early Childhood Educator in an Infant Room. We have a child that is 6 months old and has ½ oz. of corn syrup added to all of his bottles. This child is also on whole milk.

The mom states that the corn syrup helps with constipation, but my co-workers and I feel that the whole milk is what's causing the stomach problems and that the corn syrup is not healthy for the baby. Please send me any information you can on this subject.
A: It's highly unusual to give a 6-month-old baby whole milk and corn syrup. Experts recommend that infants be given breast milk or formula for the first year of life. Cow's milk shouldn't be started until 12 months of age because it doesn't have the right balance of necessary nutrients for infants. Since babies' digestive systems are still immature, starting cow's milk too early can lead to digestive problems, milk allergies and anemia.

Some families give their infants corn syrup because they think it helps keep their bowel movements regular. But corn syrup isn't necessary and can even be harmful for babies. It can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea and has even rarely led to botulism poisoning, paralysis and death.

Your childcare program should have a policy that helps you deal with unusual nutritional or health requests from parents. Talk with the parents about your need to clarify the recommendations for the baby's feedings with his pediatrician. Ask the parents to sign a release of information form for you to communicate with the pediatrician about the child's medical care. Express your concerns about the child's symptoms to the pediatrician and ask for written recommendations for the child's feeding. In all, try to work with the pediatrician and the family to come to a consensus about what's healthiest for the baby.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician