Fjord’s Allergies and what I wish we had known

When our son Fjord was 7 months old we first discovered that he had some allergies.  On the first occasion I gave him a teeny taste of strawberry yogurt, immediately his face was covered in hives.  The initial question was ‘Is it the strawberry or the milk in the yogurt’? Soon after that we had a mystery reaction, he had not eaten anything potentially allergic yet he broke out in hives indicating an allergic response, it turned out that I had touched him while baking a cheesecake and the egg white on my fingers prompted the reaction.  In another incident the minder at his crèche gave him a bit of a marshmallow Easter Egg (daft bloody minder should not be giving sweets to babies), this time his eyes swelled badly too.  We spoke to our pediatrician and Fjord was sent for blood tests.  The blood tests showed that he was very allergic to egg albumen and Cows milk.  He was also allergic to wheat to a lesser degree.   This made feeding him an enormous challenge, no yogurts, cream, butter or even margarine (only 1 brand here does not contain cow’s milk).  No crumbed fish, no toast etc. etc. etc.  I had to read the ingredients of every product so carefully, even most brands of sausages contain milk solids.  The pediatrician referred us to a dietician which was a waste of time and money, common sense dictates, if there is an allergy to a certain food, avoid it, simple!

The blood tests covered peanuts and no allergy was detected to this, as our feeding options were so limited I gave him spoons of peanut butter thinking that at least he was getting some fat and protein (important for a skinny kid).  Neither the doctor nor the dietician warned us against doing this.

During his second year we went out and without me seeing he took a nut from a bowl of mixed nuts and popped one in his mouth.  Immediately his lips swelled, he vomited and got hives.  We didn’t know which nut had prompted this reaction only that it was white.  He had sometimes had a few pecan nuts while I was baking and did not have a reaction so I thought that pecans were safe.  My father is allergic to Brazil nuts only and I assumed that with Fjord the allergy would also only be to a specific nut.  One day he had a few pecans again and this time he had a violent allergic reaction.  What I did not know was that he was becoming sensitized to them and I should never have given them.  Again neither dietician (by then we had seen 2 different ones) nor doctor had warned me.

When Fjord was 3 I asked the pediatrician to refer us to an allergy clinic which he did.  They did skin prick tests on him and the result is that he’s allergic to: dogs, all tree nuts, grass pollens, most tree pollens, egg white (and yolk to a lesser extent), Soya, potato (uncooked), peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and brewers yeast.  I had wondered why recently he had developed rash when I gave him toast and Marmite, the Marmite contains brewers yeast and we were not aware of that allergy.

Fjord has now outgrown the cow’s milk and wheat allergies which is great but the nut allergies are a source of great concern.

You do learn to work around food allergies and reading every product label is a must.  A life saver for us has been the Orgran product no egg, 30ml water with a heaped tsp of this powder = 1 egg and we use it to make cookies, cakes and pancakes (I was never able to find an egg free pancake recipe).

I really wish that from the start we had been referred to an allergy clinic, they are so much more useful and informative than the dietitians.  By all means see a dietitian but that is not top of the list.  I’m certain that an allergy clinic would have warned us about nuts, peanuts and other concerns.  Fjord was on a daily dose of anti histamine but we now only use that when he is showing symptoms.  I feel very sad and guilty that in giving him nuts and peanuts we made the situation worse and maybe those allergies would not have developed if we had held off until he was older.

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