Doctor finds 'A Healthier Wei' to treat kids

Julie Wei was a pediatric otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat specialist, at Kansas University Medical Center for more than 10 years when she began to see a trend she didn’t like.

“I realized I was seeing a lot of less healthy children who came for chronic congestion,” Wei said. “I knew in my heart something was not right because the parents told me over and over, despite using these medications, the kids weren’t better.”

So Wei wrote a book, “A Healthier Wei,” that's an explanation of why she believes children are being misdiagnosed and wrongly medicated and that shares her theory, with proven success, on how to fix these problems.

The Milk and Cookies Disease

Wei knows the only reason medication doesn't work is because they’re prescribed for the wrong reasons, so in order to figure out specifics on why they weren’t working, she knew she needed to learn more about the child. Wei started asking questions like “what does your child eat?” and “how often or at what times of day do they eat specific foods?”


Dr. Julie Wei, pediatric otolaryngologist at Kansas University Medical Center, has written a book called “A Healthier Way” that explains a simple approach to treating a child’s Ear, Nose and Throat problems through a combination of diet and lifestyle that cuts the need for medicine and surgery in a majority of cases. Specifically, eliminating excessive dairy and sugar intake in children’s diets that lead to reflux and many associated upper airway symptoms. Wei is pictured with her daughter, Claire Pankros, 7.

“We’re not trained to ask that,” she said. “I’m not a nutritionist.”

But Wei asked anyway, because she knew there wasn’t a cause for surgery for many of the patients coming to see her. After asking thousands of patients and their parents these same questions, she noticed a pattern: the children, especially preschool-aged kids, consumed a large amount of milk and dairy and also constantly had runny noses or seemed to be sick.

Wei started telling parents surgery or medication wasn’t necessary, and what was left to solve the problem was working to change the child’s diet and dietary habits.

That’s the basis for what she calls the Milk and Cookies Disease.

Wei came up with the name because she met a girl who had 27 episodes of Croup and would end up in the emergency room. Wei knew the girl was too old for this to happen and asked her usual question: does she eat after dinner? The child had chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk every night. Wei advised the family to immediately stop letting the girl have the cookies and milk after dinner, and she never had another episode again.

Why it’s bad

“What you eat is every bit as important as what time,” Wei said.

When a child goes to sleep after having dairy, they are lying flat on their backs with the undigested milk sitting in their stomachs. The milk becomes sour, which becomes acidic and comes back up. Wei said many times the child becomes so congested they snore and wake up snotty and sweaty.

People are often encouraged to stop giving children milk before bed because it rots their teeth, but rarely do parents learn about how it affects the child’s overall health.

Carla Gavril, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., brought her daughter to Wei because she was having problems with snoring, constipation and throat soreness. After making the changes suggested, including less sugar and dairy, Gavril said her daughter’s health problems were better within days.

“All sorts of things have improved that we didn’t even recognize as problems,” Gavril said.

Through her consultations, Wei also noticed that because children are so busy after school, dinner is now an afterthought. It is convenient to go to a drive-thru, but then the children eating dinner that has a lot of salt, sugar and fat later in the day.

“It seems to be safe but instead is causing these children problems,” she said.

Wei recommends that at dinnertime, avoid milk or sugar being a main part of the meal, and if a child must have a snack, feed them something nondairy.

“I don’t mean to be critical of other doctors,” Wei said. “I’ve been able to see what I believe is the truth. I’m hoping other doctors will read my book because they’re the ones out there seeing these families every day; they can make a difference.”

For more information about the Milk and Cookies Disease or to order Wei’s book, visit her website.


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