Friday, October 21, 2016

When You Give a Baby a Peanut

When you give a baby a peanut, it will cause her to have an allergic reaction. I mentioned Scarlett's possible food allergies in the babies' 9 month post. We had blood drawn after her 9 month check up, and the results came back a week later, positive for peanut and tree nut allergies. We immediately made an appointment with an allergist and picked up her prescription for an EpiPen. This morning we met with the allergist to discuss her results and management of her allergies. I want to jot this all down now while it's fresh in my brain. Maybe it will help someone going through the same thing we are, but mostly I'm sure I'll forget something and look back to this post later.

Her blood work came back positive for peanut, almond, and pine nut allergies, but negative for walnuts. She did have a reaction to walnuts and has eaten pesto on many occasions with no issue. The Dr. said when it comes to tree nuts, it's best to avoid all of them if even one test comes back positive. They are all so closely linked that any of them can cause a reaction even if an allergy hasn't been confirmed, hence her reaction to walnuts. So she will be completely nut free. No Chik Fil A, no Reese's cups, no Nutella. Sorry kid! Clark on the other hand needs to be exposed to as many nut varieties as possible. Since he hasn't had any reactions yet, it lessens his chance of developing an allergy if we continue his early exposure.

I had read mixed things as to whether limited exposure can help the body build immunity when it comes to allergies. I asked about that, and the answer is no. There is no evidence to show that continued exposure can "cure" a food allergy. Less than 20% of kids with nut allergies will outgrow them, and the only thing you can do is wait and see. On top of that, even though Scarlett's reactions have been very mild, any exposure could potentially be serious. So, strict avoidance it is.

When discussing why some kids develop food allergies and others don't, the doctor explained it like this: Children have a predisposition for allergies because of their parents. Rob's dander allergies mixed with my seasonal allergies and mild asthma as a child, predispose all of our kids to allergies. As babies they can develop eczema or food allergies and when they are slightly older then can develop seasonal allergies. Harrison has seasonal allergies, Clark had eczema, Scarlett gets food allergies, and so far Brooke has lucked out.

We won't be doing any further testing at this time, but she will get retested in a year and then again a few years later. For now we read labels like crazy and make sure she isn't exposed to any nuts. At the grocery store tonight I picked up a carton of vegetable broth, and sure enough it has almonds in it. In vegetable broth! Why? We have to have an EpiPen and Benadryl with her at all times. If we suspect she's been exposed we give her Benadryl right away. If she has a reaction, we are supposed to give her the EpiPen injection. I thought the EpiPen was mainly used when there was a serious reaction, and it should be, but in her case it's also used to prevent a serious reaction. I seriously hope I never have to give her an injection. I'm pretty sure I would be sobbing while stabbing her in the leg.

I know there are millions of people that deal with food allergies every day, but it seems daunting. More so than when I was cutting out milk and soy, I think because it could potentially be life threatening. We have been telling Brooke and Harrison how important it is that they don't share any of their food with Scarlett, and they seem to get it. Telling them their sister could die if they share their peanut butter toast is pretty easy to understand, even for a 4 year old.

If you have kids with food allergies, any tips for managing? Restaurants that are really great about handling food allergies, or places that are completely nut free?

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