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My daughter has a new allergy and you might be surprised at this one

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by Alison Read 43 Comments - Add Your Own »
Lentil Allergy Reaction

About a month ago, I gave my daughter a new soup to try: Amy’s Lentil Soup. It is delicious with quality ingredients and she ate it up one day after school, before gymnastics. I added cooked rice to it and it made a great powerhouse snack! The next week I made it for her dinner, again with rice. I think she ate two bowls, she liked it so much. Then it all went downhill…

Within a minute of finishing the soup, her voice changed and she began to have trouble breathing. She was having an asthmatic reaction. No hives, no redness, but she instantly didn’t feel well and wanted to go to bed (it was still early). I immediately gave her Benadryl and as we headed to her bedroom, she said, “Mom, bring my emergency kit.”

Because I grew up with asthma, I recognized the asthmatic breathing she was experiencing, and got an inhaler that we had been prescribed by our pediatrician but had never used. I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t work, I’ll use the Epi.” And I was racking my brain as to why she was having this reaction, though my instinct told me it was lentils since everything else in the meal was foods she had had many times before. I also knew that lentils are a legume and since she is allergic to peanuts which are also legumes, I thought there could be a connection.

After a few puffs on the inhaler, her breathing began to normalize, but slowly. Eventually her breathing was clear as she fell to sleep, exhausted by what her body had just been through. Now I know that many doctors and knowledgeable food allergy people would have advised using the Epi Pen right away, but there’s still part of me that is scared to use it, and I felt that I should try the other medications first. Luckily they worked.

Once she was asleep, I headed to the computer for answers. Sure enough I found myself in peanut allergy forums where moms were discussing the other legumes that their children were allergic to. It seemed that lentils and chickpeas were the most common legumes that peanut-allergic kids reacted to. Several of the forum members quoted the statistic of 20% of peanut allergic children being allergic to lentils or other legumes (but my allergist thinks this statistic is too high). I had never considered that lentils could be a problem, but here I was now realizing that she was probably allergic to them. I lost it. I mean I really lost it. I cried — hard. My husband was out of town and I felt alone with this knowledge and I couldn’t get a handle on my emotions. Luckily I was able to call another mom with allergic kids who could understand what I was feeling. She talked me down, but mostly just listened and was there for me on the other end of the line.

The next day I made an appointment with the allergist to test for the lentil allergy. We couldn’t get in until weeks later and I was told to avoid lentils until we could do the testing. Last Friday was the day. That morning, I called Amy’s Kitchen. I figured I should know every ingredient in that soup before we went in, and “spices” was listed as the last ingredient. Here is where I give a big plug for Amy’s: I have always loved this company and now I like it even more. The customer service person (key word here: person) understood my needs and immediately escalated my call. Though companies don’t always like to share their ingredients, because it’s like giving away their recipe, she did tell me what the “spices” in the soup were so that I could have that information to best take care of my child.

That afternoon I took my daughter to the allergist. I brought the lentil soup in one container and straight lentils that I had cooked in another container. They literally put the suspected allergens into the skin on the back to see if there is a reaction. The doctor used a commercial lentil solution for testing also. We tested a few other things while we were there too.

The results: she reacted strongly to both the lentil soup and the straight lentils. Those are the two top left wheals on her back in the picture. She did not react to the commercial lentil extract, leading both the allergist and me to believe that fresh lentils are certainly more potent and allergenic than their extract. The third wheal you see in the picture is the positive control — they purposely give histamine to make sure the person will react to something if allergic (if someone has taken antihistamines, it can affect the test). The other pricks were to rule out other ingredients in the soup (celery, for example) and retesting some other allergens.

My daughter was a trooper through the whole thing, but in the car on the way home it hit her that there is yet another food she is not allowed to have and that she has to watch out for. It breaks my heart. I hope they find a cure for food allergies in her lifetime!

Comments

  1. I’m sorry about what you all are going through.

  2. My heart goes out to you right now. My daughter also has multiple food allergies (including peanuts….so now I’m thinking I may avoid the lentils as well)and it is so frustrating when you are so careful and something new pops up.

  3. So sorry but glad you now know!
    To clarify: She only reacted to the soup and fresh lentils you cooked? Not the commercial extract? Is that typically all they use? I just want to make sure as a PA parent I know when she’s tested clear of something like that there might not still be a chance……

  4. I’m so sorry she has yet another thing to avoid. I feel her pain and frustration.

    I was afraid you were going to say it was the spices, which pretty much rules out all pre-prepared foods, like Amy’s and all of the yummy looking things in the Gluten-Free Store (you wouldn’t believe how many things have cinnamon or nutmeg in them). I am allergic to herbs and spices. I break out in hives and have an asthma attack if I walk into a kitchen where fresh herbs are being used. I’m sure it’s quite entertaining to watch me speed through the produce section when I can’t avoid passing by the them :).

  5. Keeley – yes, she reacted to what I brought in – the soup and the fresh lentils I cooked. She did not react to the commercial extract! It makes me wonder too…

    Terri – you are allergic to ALL herbs and spices??

  6. Alison -

    For sure the common ones. Of course I haven’t tested every single herb and spice, but my reactions to the common ones (basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg…) are so severe I’m just going to continue to avoid them all :)

    I’m not just Celiac though. I have Chronic Angioedema and Urticaria which is brought on by most foods, physical pressure, scratches, heat, cold, overexertion…

  7. Oh honey, been there. My daughter reacts to lentils too but has been fine with beans. Chickpeas are next on the list to try and it scares me. So sorry she has to avoid another food, it’s heartbreaking.

  8. I know I have heard from others that they have had a negative scratch test to a substance, yet they have an anaphylactic reaction if they consume that food. That’s pretty scary. A negative reaction on a scratch test does not mean that you don’t have an allergy. The only helpful reaction on a skin scratch test is a positive reaction.

  9. Hope she’s now well! So sorry for you and your daughter, it must have been very scary for her.

  10. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. Our son, who is 2 1/2 yrs old, is also peanut, tree nut and multiple legume (including chickpeas and lentils ) allergic. In addition to tge confirmed allergens, We avoid all legumes to be safe. Our allergist advised us that it is not as common to be multi-legume allergic. Lots of cross reactivity between beans, peas and lentils and sometimes the body goes haywire. We were not big meat eaters before, and beans were a staple for us. Now we have adjusted and consume more animal protein ( no eggs cuz that’s an allergy too), but we are selective and get best quality organic meat we can. Sending hugs to you and your family.

  11. Alison, I’m sorry for what you are going through…I have tears in my eyes reading this article. Hang in there, you are an awesome Momma, and because of you everyone else is learning so much…(big hug)
    -Anita

  12. Alison, our 7 yo DD is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, peas, chickpeas, lentils, legumes. (but can eat green beans, kidney beans, white beans). I would never have known about lentils, chickpeas had it not been for an excellent pediatrician 5 years ago who told me that most peanut allergic kids react to chickpeas and lentils!! I’m so sorry you found out the hard way. Every year we test for major legumes and any we want to try. We food challenged kidney beans and white beans at home. I will also food challenge black beans soon since her reaction was very low. Good luck, hugs, and sorry to hear you had to add things. That’s never the direction we want to go.

  13. Alison,
    I’m so sorry you and your girl had to go through this. I, too, have a food allergic kid. I have been a vigilant parent but there have been occasions where my girl (now 16) has reacted to something that we were ultimately unable to identify. The frustration/fear/guilt that went along with those episodes stands out in my mind. I understand your tears! I also understand your reluctance to go straight to the Epi. My daughter is seriously needle-phobic and the mere suggestion that she will need the Epi tends to make her reaction even worse. We do a Benadryl strip with a repeat in 5-10 minutes if her symptoms haven’t decreased. My girl has anaphylaxis with all nuts (tree and ground), peanuts and shellfish. She is also sensitive to tree fruits. I never gave a thought about lentils also being a legume! It’s not something we consume much of in our household, but is something I need to make her aware of now that she is older and I am not the only one preparing her food. She has been known to eat considerable quantities of hummus, so I don’t think that she is reacting strongly to chickpeas. I’ll have to question her more about how she feels after her next hummus party! Thanks for sharing.

  14. I’m so sorry. I just found your page, but I get the sense that we have similar issues dealing with multiple food allergies. Thankfully, my daughter is only allergic to soy, but my husband has allergies and sensitivities to many foods: gluten, soy, nuts, dairy, and more. Hang in there as best you can. It sounds like your daughter is a sweetheart.
    Kathy

  15. My 5 yr old DD goes in for skin prick testing next week for lentils! She had itching and hives after eating lentils, then again the next day after a meal at Chick-fil-A, and she tested mildly allergic on RAST to peanuts, lentils and strawberries. She’s got an aversion to peas, so I suspect peas and chickpeas will go too. I’m gluten/dairy/sesame/soy intolerant, but allergies are a new world to me. She’s had loose stools for months now, so I worry her digestive issues will mirror mine, but now I wonder if he has “allergic colitis” as opposed to food intolerances. Interestingly, these first reactions started as I was weaning her off of antihitamines for tree pollen allergy. She’d just gone cold turkey on Zyrtec (google “Zyrtec withdrawal”) at night and was on Allegra during the day. I’m hoping it was just immune system rebound or some temporary freakout…

  16. I had tears in my eyes when reading the last sentence, as it has also been my wish for the past 2 years since I foudn out my daughter’s allergies to wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame… when she was only 6 months old. So I totally feel your pain and frustration of finding a new thing your daughter has to avoid.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and sometimes I had my strength back after visiting this website and knew that we’re not the only family in the world struggling with food allergies.

  17. How well I know this feeling….in addition to her dairy, peanut and tree nut my 7yo daughter has developed an array of produce allergies and that list keeps on growing (always foods she loves!). This weekend, she tried cucumbers for the second time…..and this time she reacted. It was obvious and just an oral allergy but it added another to the list and leaves me very sad and frustrated.

  18. Thank you JZ for your kind words.

  19. Crystal,
    Cucumbers! Bummer.

  20. My daughter’s skin prick tests showed she is allergic to nearly ALL legumes!! lentils, green peas, green beans, soy, peanuts, etc. etc. I’ve become an overnight scholar on legume allergies, and I’m pretty confident I found the smoking gun in her case. It knocked my socks off to learn that most peanut allergic kids are also sensitized to tree pollen. I also learned that many pollen producing trees are legume trees, such as locust, acacia, etc. Then I learned that local governments and landscapers plant mostly male trees of all varieties to avoid having them bear messy fruit or flowers. So cities and suburbs, where legume allergies are worst, are blanketed in insane amounts of tree pollen because of the trees planted by people!! This is not how mother nature would have designed our forests and communities. Our built “natural” environment is causing this meteoric rise in legume and other allergies!!

    It’s truly stunning when you think about it. Peanut allergy is worst in urban areas, and we’re all led to think about the hygeine hypothesis, when the opposite may be true. Our immune systems are bombarded with wholly unnatural levels of pollen! This may even explain her early hives around her mouth in response to eating cinnamon. Cinnamon is the bark of the Cassia tree, a legume!!

    Here’s an interesting article explaining legume allergies. Given the estrogenic properties of all legumes, I guess she’s not missing much! I’m one step closer to adopting the Paleo diet!

    http://www.allergyfree-gardening.com/articles/5…ty-to-pollen.html

  21. The other day my husband and I were puzzled over why she had a rash after eating hummus. It’s one of her favorite foods. But it was probably the chickpeas! Thank you so much for this information.

    Also a thank you to “V” for the info about tree pollen.

    My daughter is allergic to milk, egg, almonds, soy, peanuts, and shellfish. Because of her asthma, I’m thinking gluten is next on the list of foods to eliminate. The doctor is pressuring me to start her on daily steroid, which my husband & I have avoided up to now, but what do you do?! You want the kid to breathe!

  22. Kate,
    Sesame is also a growing food allergy and all hummus contains sesame – you might also think about that one. I would try the gluten-free diet before steroids – but that’s just me!

  23. Watch this http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/video-tutorial/gluten-sensitivity-what-is-it/ and go grain free and posibly all the allergies disappear…

  24. The problem are the grains they all contain proteins the human body reacts to, the problems is in the grains…there is nothing wrong with that body, it is just reacting to the proteins in grains…

  25. Hi My son Joseph at 4 yrs old became anaphylactic to eating heinz (white) beans. He ate a normal heathy diet up until this and was not allergic or asthmatic to anything. We were lucky my husband is an anaesthesiologist and we were able to obtain medicine quickly from an obliging pharmacist when he saw Joseph obviously very ill.
    Shortly after that he developed hay fever/asthma and oral allergy to most fruits and vegetables when previously able to eat all of these.
    After 4 years of figuring this all out and meeting an excellent Spanish Allergist Joseph has started monthly subcutaneous immunotherapy injections to birch/grass pollen (a preparation with a high concentration of Profilin to treat his hay fever and asthma)
    After six months we saw improvements in hay fever/asthma and he can comfortably eat raw carrots, apples, pears, strawberries potatoes and grapes. He will occasionally get very mild symptoms to grapes but he can still eat these just not in the handfuls he might normally like. The treatment has made the world of difference to us, he is 2.5 years into his 3-5 yr treatment. Obviously this treatment would not be for everyone Joseph is very happy to get a monthly injection and is comfortable around the hospital but I wanted to mention it here as i haven’t seen anyone else mentioning it. Prayersanswered

  26. Oh man. I’m so sorry. Our daughter is also peanut allergic. When she was a baby, she got horrible diaper rash from chickpeas and black beans–so we took those out of her diet for years, but re-introduced them when she was about 5-6. We had her re-tested for legumes a couple of years ago because she was having problems and were surprised to find out that she tested mildly allergic to soy. She also tested sensitive to pinto beans and green beans. Sigh. Our allergist said that peanut allergic kids often test allergic to soy. So now soy is out of our family’s diet, as are pinto beans. We have green beans every once in awhile to see how she does.

    All of this is so confusing and depressing to keep on top of. And I am totally with you–we have an Epi-pen for me and for our daughter. We’ve never had to use it on our daughter, but I have had 2 anaphylactic episodes myself (I am allergic to wheat, bleh) and I am quite reluctant to use it. We just run to the ER as soon as we can. Sigh.

  27. I am a product of immunotherapy! I am 35 years old and had my shots from about ages 7-14. It was gruesome at times, and I now wonder about the long-term effects (I’m just pretty medically skeptical these days), but I will say that they have helped me to function in the world! I used to be miserable nearly every spring through fall. I can even stand to get near some cats now, if I am careful not to touch, whereas as a child my eyes and throat would start to swell nearly shut just being in the same house as cats.

    Because of long-term gastro issues (started to think gas, bloating and ensuing pain were normal!) I have been gluten-, casein-, soy- and peanut-free for about a year and a half year now. I also had been off eggs, corn and sesame for about a year. I have successfully challenged sesame and, just this week, eggs (so I remain cautious for now). Corn seems iffy. My point to all this is that, although it took almost a year, my gut is starting acting more normally, and I have noticed vast improvements in my remaining seasonal allergies as well since I went off all these foods! Other things too, like my baby toenails starting to grow normally for the first time in my life. My chiro/food expert thinks they are definitely all related.

    Alison, I nearly cried for you and your daughter, knowing this is how my mom must have felt when I was young. I don’t think my reactions were exactly anaphylactic, so I can’t imagine how much more scary this must be for you. And I know how the poor kid feels about being a food cop. You’re so wonderful for doing everything you can to make sure she doesn’t feel too deprived!

  28. You also may want to be aware that some asthma inhalers contain soy, believe it or not. My brother was hospitalized once for pneumonia and when he was discharged he was given a prescription for an inhaler to use if he was having problems breathing. The doctor that prescribed it was also aware of his legume allergy. I just happened to read the insert that came in the box with the inhaler and saw that it container soy. Thank God he had not used it. I am so used to reading the labels on everything since he is not as careful as he should be. No processed foods because soy is in virtually everything. Did you also know that clover is a legume? It is classified as a legume because of its roots. No clover honey for your daughter, ever. Orange blossom, star thistle, wildflower or buckwheat honey is ok. Which brings up another concern. When you see “honey” listed as an ingredient you cannot trust it. It is probably clover honey because that is the cheapest honey. No peanuts or almonds, but my brother is able to eat walnuts, pecans and cashews (obviously raw, not roasted in vegetable oil or soybean oil) because they are not legumes. I make him cashew brittle at home, cashew butter in my food processor, etc. There are ways around the legume allergy as I am sure you are educating yourself. It can be overwhelming, though. I just recently discovered that mesquite is a legume: Genus Prosopis, family Leguminosae. So, I gave away all my seasonings that contained mesquite. Believe me, the research is never-ending. Good luck to you.

  29. I feel bad for you and your daughter. I know exactly how this is, as I have been allergic to lentils, peas and peanuts all my life. Lentils are the worst – I get hives, my lips swell up and develop huge blisters and the inside of my mouth feels like it’s on fire. Until recently I thought I must be the only person with a legume allergy, but recently I have met a couple more and reading all these comments makes me realise it is much more common than I thought. Strangely enough I can eat chickpeas ok, but am a bit iffy with some types of beans.
    Like Angie, I have had severe gastro issues all my life and thought that was just how I was meant to be. This last week I have wondered if I might be allergic to gluten and am trying a gluten free diet. It seems that if you have one allergy you have lots – I’m certainly allergic to dust, feathers, animals and used to be very allergic to tree pollen though I’m much better now in that respect.
    It is a shame your daughter will have to go without pulses but I assure you it is possible! The things I find I have to be most careful with are soups and stews, if I am eating out, as lentils and peas tend to be popular ingredients. Also Indian and Thai food, and vegetarian alternatives to meat dishes. It kind of rules out being a vegetarian!
    Good luck with it all!

  30. A few follow-up questions for you guys. My daughter tested allergic (blood and skin) to every legume she was tested for: peanuts, soy, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, lima beans, green beans, and black-eyed peas. Her only symptoms other than hives once is tummy ache and explosive diarrhea. I’ve noticed the severe diarrhea in response to bean sprouts, pinto beans and black beans, so those are out now too. My question is, what about all the legume gums in processed food? Guar gum, acacia gum, carob bean gum. Should I assume she’s allergic to those too? Can I test for those?? I had the fortune of asking the famous Dr Wood from Johns Hopkins about my daughter. He said her legume-wide allergy after 2 years of severe tree pollen allergy point to birch pollen cross reactivity. He said she will

  31. A few follow-up questions for you guys. My daughter tested allergic (blood and skin) to every legume she was tested for: peanuts, soy, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, lima beans, green beans, and black-eyed peas. Her only symptoms other than hives once is tummy ache and explosive diarrhea. I’ve noticed the severe diarrhea in response to bean sprouts, pinto beans and black beans, so those are out now too. My question is, what about all the legume gums in processed food? Guar gum, acacia gum, carob bean gum. Should I assume she’s allergic to those too? Can I test for those?? I had the fortune of asking the famous Dr Wood from Johns Hopkins about my daughter. He said her legume-wide allergy after 2 years of severe tree pollen allergy point to birch pollen cross reactivity. He said she will probably never outgrow them, even if we treat the birch pollen allergy with immunotherapy :(. I’ve also noticed she is starting to dislike raw carrots (loves cooked ones), and she picks peas over apples. She hasn’t complained of moth symptoms, but I suspect oral allergy syndrome is up next. Sigh. I’m gluten/dairy/soy free but I have no pollen allergies. Is there reason to believe the GF diet would help her pollen-induced allergies?

  32. Oops, I meant she picks pears over apples but hasn’t complained of mouth irritation yet.

  33. The same thing just happened to my five year old son. He is allergic to eggs, nuts, sesame, peas, etc. and now lentil. I cooked beef stew, let it simmer for a few hours, and Willy very excited, tried it. And all of a sudden he said his lips hurt, I thought it was too spicy and I had him drink a glass of milk, a few minutes later his lip was swollen. I called 911, because I too am scared to use the epi-pen myself, but we gave him Benadryl because he mouth wasn’t swelling. He just fell asleep, I got on the computer, and wound up here. You may not read this, but it is nice (but not- because severe food allergies are scary and hard to deal with) but, it’s nice knowing we are not alone! Thanks!

  34. I found your post so informative. I am allergic to corn, peanuts, MSG, all the grass, weeds and trees, mold, dust, cockroaches, (they do test for that), Gluten, horseradish. I recently had chickpea flour thinking it could help me with my Gluten free diet. I baked something with it and found I had a reaction much like corn, yet I have eaten fresh or canned chickpeas and never reacted like I do to corn. I have also eaten lentil soup made lentils so now I am afraid to retry these things. Did my body change I wonder. I have avoided peas because I was told if your allergic to corn, you are allergic to peas too. I feel so tired of trying to find foods I can have that are safe. Oh I am also allergic to kiwi.

  35. Hi Melissa,
    I am reading this – we are not alone, although most of the time it feels like it! Weird about lentils… I can’t wait until they find a treatment for food allergies!

  36. Dear Alison
    My 7 year old daughter too has multiple allergies since birth. Some she has grown out of and others not. Today I was really excited to try a lentil soup recipe that the kids picked from taste.com.au. After about 5 minutes, of eating the lentil soup, my daughter said she didn’t feel well and that her lips were itchy. I gave her Zirtek and told her to stop eating. She had no hives or swollen lips but just said her throat felt funny. Today was the first time she had ever eaten lentils, so I knew it had to be the culprit. I decided to jump online for a little research and am surprised to find out like yourself that she can now add another food to her list of allergies. She is allergic to some nuts, sesame, eggs, and kiwi. After reading your post, I’m absolutely sure she is also allergic to lentils. Thankyou for sharing. After years of being told she will grow out of most of her allergies by the age of 10-12, it doesn’t look as though this will happen. She is so disappointed to have another food to add to her list of allergies. I have started her on probiotics, and will continue for the next 12-24 months to see if it makes any difference.
    Good luck, I know what you are going through

  37. Hi Katarina,
    Yes, it is so disappointing to add allergies. We have not managed to lose any… I wish someone would figure out why! I really need to get my daughter back on probiotics too. We were doing them for awhile but then lapsed.

  38. Hi Alison,
    I just found you site and am so grateful to have somewhere to go for info and just for an outlet! We live primarily gluten-free in our house, and my just last year my 14 year old daughter developed allergies to ALL nuts, coconut and soy. And her latest blood work shows that all of her IgE levels have literally doubled if not tripled! Help! Any thoughts from anyone on how to get her levels to come down rather than go up more! Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer :-)
    Alyson

  39. Hi Alison,

    My son is allergic to lentils as well. He is three years old. I totally understand how you feel. We can only hope they outgrow these allergies, do our best to avoid the allergens and carry an epi pen at all times. He is also allergic to chickpeas, lima beans, sesame, maybe peas and the new one seems to be safflower.
    All the best to your daughter.

    Melba

  40. Just found this site. My 14 year old has life long multiple food allergies. He is severely allergic to nuts and dairy (for which we carry an epipen) but also very allergic with variable symptoms to lots of other foods including soy, most fruits, some vegetables, red meat, wheat, rye, oats, sesame. The list goes on for several pages. We have done lots of tests – blood ige and skin prick tests. What has been most complicated is that over exposure to some foods has led to reactivity to foods that were ok. Sometimes these ones can be re-introduced but not always. It is very complicated and requires lots of patience and close attention to everything he eats. Trying new things sometimes results in stomach cramps and a day off school. There are some other children with allergies in our family but none as severe. Always hoping for some kind of breakthrough but doesn’t seem to be arriving anytime soon. Just wanted to touch base with other parents who understand how difficult this is as most people just don’t get it!

  41. Hi,
    My son just started to have an allergic reaction to the same exact soup! I just found your story, thank you for writing it. He also has asthma, so we have inhalers if needed. Fortunately, his breathing isn’t being affected. He started getting itchy and extremely red in the face and neck. His skin is hot to the touch and he’s getting small hives. He’s thirteen, we gave him benadryl and are keeping an eye on him. What’s odd is that he doesn’t have a peanut allergy; but I guess we’ll have to keep an eye out for that now.

  42. Lynet,
    That is so odd! Does he have any other food allergies?

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