FAQs about "Milk & Cookie Disease"

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Julie Wei, MD, was featured in the first half of Steve Kraske's Kansas City Public Radio show, Up To Date. Click the arrow below to listen.

The University of Kansas Hospital Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist Julie L. Wei, MD, coined the phrase "Milk & Cookie Disease™" after years of treating children referred to her with ear, nose and throat complaints that mimicked actual infections and illness. Often these patients were on several medications but not showing improvement. 

Dr. Wei strongly believed a significant number of children were misdiagnosed and over-medicated. She successfully treated them by prescribing a change in what and when they eat, especially dairy and sugar. The results have children sleeping better, eating better, and thriving with fewer or no medications.

  1. Who is Dr. Wei and how do you pronounce her name?
    Wei is pronounced “way”. She frequently tells her patients and their parents there is a healthier way to live, which is where A Healthier Wei (the title of her book available in November) originates.
  2. What is Milk & Cookie Disease?
    It is a phrase Dr. Wei coined to help parents better understand the impact of snacks given to children in the evening and at bedtime, particularly dairy and sugar. Dr. Wei sees a strong link between foods high in dairy, sugar and acid and the symptoms children show that often mimic actual infections and illness resulting in children being misdiagnosed and over-medicated.
  3. What symptoms do children experiencing Milk & Cookie Disease show that can be mistaken as infections or other illness?
    Symptoms of Milk & Cookie Disease include chronic stuffy nose, nasal congestion, chronic runny nose, cough, sinus infections, sore throat, recurrent croup, allergies and asthma.
  4. How does Milk & Cookie Disease cause symptoms that mimic other illness?
    Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) can occur when children snack too close to bedtime. Food and liquid can back up in the stomach, the esophagus (swallowing tube) and even up into the throat. This is called reflux.
  5. How can parents tell if their child is suffering from Milk & Cookie Disease?
    Parents should answer the questions below and consult their pediatrician.

Does your child have Milk & Cookie Disease?

If you answer yes five or more times, or if your child is otherwise healthy but on more than three medications or has seen several specialists such as pediatric gastroenterology, ENT, pulmonary, or asthma/allergy doctors, your child could have Milk & Cookie Disease and you should consult with your pediatrician.

 1) Was your child born full term and healthy?  Yes  No 
 2) Does your child drink milk at or immediately before bedtime?  Yes  No
 3) Does your child eat a snack/drink anything other than water after dinner?  Yes  No
 4) Does your child have chronic stuffy nose?  Yes  No
 5) Is your child “sick” but still able to go to school/live life?  Yes  No
 6) Have any of the medications completely cured his/her symptoms?  Yes  No
 7) Do you feel frustrated that your child is not healthier?  Yes  No
 8) Does your child have constipation? (Need laxative to keep regular?)  Yes  No
 9) How many medications is your child currently on? 1  2  3   >4
 10) How many specialists has your child seen in the past year? 1  2  3   >4

The Kitchen is Closed from Patrick Monroe on Vimeo.

Five tips to A Healthier Wei

Below are tips from Dr. Wei’s book titled A Healthier Weiavailable in November.

  1. Talk to your doctor if medications prescribed for your child’s symptoms are not “working.”
    Ask your doctor how long your child should continue to take the prescribed medication(s). How will the doctor determine if and when your child can stop any of the medications he/she is on?
  2. Stop bedtime snacks including all beverages other than water.
    Toddlers and children need to avoid drinking milk, juice, soda or any beverage other than water to avoid backwash into the throat during sleep.
  3. Avoid or minimize dairy and sugar in the evenings.
    Dairy and sugar both lead to increased acidity in the stomach as well as delayed gastric emptying time, resulting in slow digestion, indigestion, and reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) may lead to problems during sleep and even into the next day such as coughing, stuffy nose, and sore throat.
  4. Choose snacks carefully. If your child must eat after dinner or before bed, offer bananas, dry crackers, and avoid foods containing dairy and sugar.
    Some foods are more acidic than others and more likely to cause reflux. In addition to avoiding dairy and sugar, also avoid chocolate, soda, citrus fruits and orange juice. Even fresh fruits such as grapes and berries are highly acidic. Instead eat cantaloupe, pears, bananas and oatmeal.
  5. Treat your child’s constipation – don’t ignore it.
    If the body is constipated, then the digestive process takes even longer and increases the risk of reflux of stomach contents back up into the esophagus and even throat.

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