This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Chronic intestinal indigestion in children should be treated by dieting rather than by medicines. Diligent inquiry must be made into the cause of the trouble, and the diet must be regulated accordingly. The stools and the urine must always be carefully examined. If the former are hard, white, and lumpy, if they are too loose and contain undigested coagulae of casein and drops of fat, or if they are sour from lactic-acid fermentation, the milk is certainly disagreeing. If the child is nursing, the mother's milk may be at fault. If the woman is worried, exhausted, or possibly pregnant, or suffering from insomnia, menstrual disorder, phthisis, or other chronic ailment, or if lactation is too long continued, her milk must be replaced by that of a good wet nurse, or, failing this, by the bottle. This change will often cure the indigestion at once. It may be that the infant is simply overfed, or fed too often. The excess of milk fails to be absorbed, undergoes lactic-acid fermentation, produces gas with abdominal distention and diarrhoea or irregular passages, together with loss of weight, fretfulness, and other symptoms.
If the child is being fed upon a mixed diet with milk and one of the prepared infant foods, such as Mellin's, Ridge's, Horlick's, etc., the difficulty may be with either the proteid or the carbohydrate elements, but the prepared foods had better be abandoned. It is easy to ascertain which is at fault by confining the diet exclusively for a few days to one or the other of these classes of foods, and noting the effect on the bowels. Moreover, proteid intestinal indigestion usually produces offensive alkaline feculent stools, while carbohydrate indigestion causes acid stools with more flatus. Of course both classes of indigestion may coexist in the intestine, but the difficulty is primarily with one sort or the other, and hence the advantage of substituting for the mixed diet a more elementary one. In place of milk, egg albumin, pressed-beef juice, or meat broths are to be given. Or if these proteids are not digested, the diet should consist for a few days of barley or rice gruel, or gruels of "torrefied starch" - i. e., wheat flour which has been boiled or roasted in order to burst the starch granules and partially convert the granulose into dextrin.
A mixture of cream and water (p. 494) is well tolerated in some cases, or peptonised milk and various other preparations of milk may be given; but at present peptonised milk is less in vogue than formerly, as its power of restoring emaciated tissues has been seriously called in question. " Modified " or "humanised " milk is to be preferred (p. 90).