by Dina Saunders
Who knew a tiny amount of egg could be such a big problem? Zeroing in on my son’s food allergies, and becoming an educated parent, has been a long, tedious and sometimes scary road.
My husband and I stumbled through months and months of sleepless nights trying to figure out what in the world was going on with our son. He woke up every two to three hours crying, gassy and seemingly in pain. For months, our nightly routine involved endless rocking and offering gas drops as often as possible. Our little guy would fall asleep from exhaustion, and then it would start all over again in a couple hours.
Being sleep-deprived can make problem solving extra challenging, but we kept digging to get to the root of the problem. We thought it might be colic, but the pediatrician ruled that out. We thought it might be an attachment issue. We became instant experts in the Ferber method, which proved to be unsuccessful. Finally – here comes a shocker – I decided to trust my maternal instincts! I asked our pediatrician the nagging question that had been on my mind, “Could something I’m eating be bothering my baby?” She assured me that it would be far too difficult to figure that out. She reminded me that I should consider myself extremely lucky if my baby sleeps through the night before he turns 12 months old.
Her answer did not make me feel better. I still felt like something was wrong. I asked a different pediatrician the same question during a walk-in appointment. She said, “Yes, something you’re eating could be bothering your baby.” She suggested eliminating cow’s milk from my diet first because it’s a very common food allergen for infants. She went further and noted that my son’s eczema could be related to food allergies. She even asked me to identify any history of food allergies in my family. I realized that food allergies run on both sides. Thankfully, within a week of eliminating cow’s milk from my diet, John started to sleep for five to six hours, and his eczema started to clear up.
At eight months old, we took our little dude to a pediatric allergist to find out more about his allergies. A skin test revealed a severe allergic reaction to egg and dairy, as well as several other foods.
Since then, I’ve learned that each food allergy may present itself differently. For example, my little guy’s egg and dairy allergies are severe and includes vomiting within 15 minutes of ingesting either food allergen. I found this one out by conducting a biannual at-home food test by serving him one half of a teaspoon of scrambled egg. (For the record, I prefer scheduled blood tests to monitor my son’s allergies these days.) In comparison, his wheat allergy shows itself through eczema flare-ups on his hands, arms and legs.
I recently found a pediatric practice that has an allergist on staff who works in concert with the pediatrician. This has helped us tremendously in creating a well-informed and clear action plan for dealing with our son’s allergies – especially when communicating our allergy action plan to his school, caregivers and family members. I’m also proud to say that our now five year old son also serves as his own advocate and clearly communicates his allergy issues to friends and adults.
All is not lost. One day he should out grow his food allergies. It will be interesting to see what he actually thinks of eating scrambled eggs with his bacon.