Low Vitamin D linked to allergies

Posted on March 5th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Food Allergies, News & Research | Read 8 Comments - Add Your Own »

Vitamin DChildren with low vitamin D levels were found to be 2.4 times more likely to be allergic to peanuts than children with adequate vitamin D levels, researchers discovered, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. This was just one of 17 allergens tested in kids with vitamin D deficiency. These children were also more likely to be allergic to 11 of the 17 allergens tested, which included both environmental (such as oak and ragweed) and food (such as shrimp) allergens.

What does this mean? Researchers aren’t quite sure what the link means, but there has been a lot of emerging research about vitamin D deficiency and also about the role of vitamin D in protecting against various health conditions. Food allergies, like many other immune conditions, are on the rise, as is vitamin D deficiency.

In 2010 the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D were raised to 400 IU/day for infants, 600 IU/day for people age 1-70, and 800 IU/day for those over 70 years old. In addition, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), meaning the dose at which there are no known adverse effects, was set at 4,000 IU/day for people age 9 or older, with gradually lower amounts for lower ages. See the National Institutes of Health Vitamin D fact sheet for more information.

These new RDA levels for vitamin D, though higher than before, are thought to be still too low, according to many researchers, doctors and health practitioners. I personally supplement with vitamin D (my levels tested low) and give my kids vitamin D supplements on the advice of a nutritionist and based on my own research. My experience is not meant to be taken as medical advice. I suggest that you see a health professional for his/her recommendations on vitamin D supplementation, especially if you suffer from any chronic health condition.

If you have undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you may be at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Vikki Petersen explains the correlation very well in this video:

Research continues, and there’s a lot more to learn about vitamin D and its crucial role in our health.


Raising awareness about food allergies at school

Posted on January 10th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Dairy Allergy, Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, News & Research, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy, Uncategorized, Wheat Allergy | Read 10 Comments - Add Your Own »

schoolhouseI recently encouraged my daughter’s elementary school to put a food allergy program in place after the peanut butter incident. The principal liked my proposed ideas and I was able to address the entire school in an assembly on food allergies. It was well-received. In fact, my daughter told me today that whenever her classmates are eating something she is allergic to, they warn her: “Be careful, I’ve got peanut butter today.” These are first graders — it warms my heart! I have definitely sensed a heightened awareness since the assembly. I am working on the rest of the program which will be put to use at the beginning of the next school year. It is inspired by the ideas put out by The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), but with my own twist and with a more age-appropriate message for elementary school kids.

Any program that raises awareness at school is greatly needed. I have not advocated for a peanut or nut free school, CONTINUE READING »


Halloween Candy List – Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Status – 2010

Posted on October 3rd, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Dairy Allergy, Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, Gluten Intolerance, Holidays/Special Events, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy, Products, Wheat Allergy | Read 74 Comments - Add Your Own »

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM 2010. THE 2011 HALLOWEEN LIST IS HERE: Halloween Candy List Gluten-Free Allergen-Free 2011

Here’s the list you’ve been looking for… but first, you get to see the giant spider I made in my yard last year for Halloween! The Home Depot guys cutting the black pipe to my specifications thought I was crazy! The spider is coming out again this year with some modifications (furry perhaps?)

spider1

Now on to the candy…

Each candy shows if its ingredients contains wheat/gluten, milk (dairy), soy, egg, nuts, or peanuts (6 of the top 8 allergens — fish and shellfish are not included since I have not found this to be a concern with candy). I do not include coconut as a tree nut and have not listed coconut as an allergen. I called many of the manufacturers and/or checked their websites for gluten and allergen information,which I have noted at the end of each manufacturer’s section. To print this list, click on the Print icon above the title. If you don’t see the print icon, click on the title of the article first.

Note: Please, as always, double check ingredients and also check with the child’s parents before giving them any candy or allowing them to eat anything! I will not be held liable for any accident occurring due to the use of this list. It is meant as a guide only.

In a hurry? Check out these:
Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010
Allergen-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010

NOTE for bloggers: If you are going to post or share this list, would you be so kind as to give me credit and link to me? This took many hours of my life and I even got kicked out of Walgreen’s for taking notes in the candy aisle, so please be considerate of my hard work! :)

Mainstream candy listed by brand, in alphabetical order:

ADAMS & BROOKS

  • Scooby Doo! Fun Pops (lollipops with picture of Scooby Doo)
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, wheat/gluten, soy
    • Ingredients contain: no top 8 allergens
    • Package statement: “Packaged in a plant that processes peanuts and tree nuts.”

AIRHEADS

  • Airheads Bars and Airheads Bars Sour
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, wheat/gluten
    • Ingredients contain: soybean oil
    • Package statement: “Manufactured in a facility that processes wheat flour”
  • Airheads Xtremes Rolls
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk
    • Ingredients contain: wheat flour, soybean oil
  • Airheads Xtremes Belts
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: wheat flour, wheat starch
  • Airheads Pops and Whistle Pops
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy, wheat/gluten
    • Ingredients contain: none of the top 8 allergens

AMERICAN LICORICE CO.

  • Sour Punch Twists
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: wheat/gluten

ANNABELLE’S

  • Big Hunk
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, milk, tree nuts (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: peanuts, eggs, soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • Rocky Road
    • Ingredients free of: none of top 8!
    • Ingredients contain: milk, tree nuts (cashews), wheat/gluten (barley malt and wheat flour), soybean oil
    • Package statement: “may contain peanuts, eggs, and flour”
  • Abba Zabba
    • Ingredients free of: tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: peanuts, soybean oil and soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • Look
    • Ingredients free of: tree nuts, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: milk, peanuts, soy lecithin, eggs
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • U-No
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, eggs, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: milk, almonds, soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”

Gluten-Free info (via phone Sept 2010): The only guaranteed gluten-free candy is the 2 oz. (regular size) Big Hunk. For all other candies, including the mini Big Hunks, there is the possibility of contamination from flour that is used on the belts. While there is no flour used specifically for the Big Hunk minis, there is flour used on the belts for the manufacture of the Look bars.

CONTINUE READING »


Allergen-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010

Posted on October 3rd, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Dairy Allergy, Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, Gluten Intolerance, Holidays/Special Events, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy, Soy Allergy, Wheat Allergy | Read 21 Comments - Add Your Own »

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM 2010. THE 2011 HALLOWEEN LIST IS HERE: Allergen-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2011

halloweenpumpkin

This is a 2010 quick list of Halloween candy with ingredients that are gluten-free and free of the top 8 allergens. I have included a package statement if it mentions allergens. For a more complete listing, along with company allergy statements, please read the Halloween Candy List – Gluten-Free Allergen-Free – 2010. For a gluten-free listing only, please read the Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010. To print this list, click on the Print icon above the title. If you don’t see the print icon, click on the title of the article first.

NOTE for bloggers: If you are going to post or share this list, would you be so kind as to give me credit and link to me? This took many hours of my life and I even got kicked out of Walgreen’s for taking notes in the candy aisle, so please be considerate of my hard work! :)

Mainstream candies:

ADAMS & BROOKS

  • Scooby Doo! Fun Pops (lollipops with picture of Scooby Doo)
    • Package statement: “Packaged in a plant that processes peanuts and tree nuts.”

AIRHEADS

  • Airheads Pops and Whistle Pops

CADBURY ADAMS (now part of Kraft Foods)

  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids and Sour Patch Extreme
  • Sour Patch Xploderz
    • Package statement: “Manufactured in a facility that handles peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy and wheat.”

CE DE CANDY

  • Smarties (only USA, not Canada), Smarties in a Pouch, Tropical Smarties, Bubble Gum Smarties, X-TREME Sour Smarties, Smarties Parties, Easter Smarties, Smarties Double Lollies, Smarties Mega Lollies, Smarties Pops
  • Candy Money
  • Love Hearts

FARLEY’S AND SATHERS

  • Super Bubble and Super Bubble Blast
    • Package statement: “Manufactured in a facility that manufactures products containing traces of eggs.”
  • Trolli Gummi Bears, Trolli Sour Brite (Frite) Crawlers
    • Package statement: “Made in allergen-free facility but packaged on equipment that packages products containing traces of milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and/or soy protein.”
  • Jujyfruits, Jujubes
    • Package statement: “Made in allergen-free facility but packaged on equipment that packages products containing traces of milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and/or soy protein.”
  • Brach’s Candy Corn and Gummi Candy Corn (not flavored candy corns — see below)
    • Package statement: “Packaged on equipment that also packages products containing traces of milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and/or soy protein.”
  • Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkins
    • Package statement: “Packaged on equipment that also packages products containing traces of milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and/or soy protein”
  • Heide candies — Jujyfruits, Jujubes, Cool Grape, Red Raspberry Dollars, Wild Cherry

FERRARA PAN

  • Lemonhead, Red Hots, Chewy Lemonhead and Friends, Tropical Chewy Lemonhead and Friends, Applehead, Grapehead, Cherryhead
    • Package statement on some: “This product was manufactured in a facility where peanuts, almonds, milk, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, soy and egg are used in the production of other products.”

FRANKFORD CANDY & CHOCOLATE COMPANY

  • SpongeBob Gummy Krabby Patties
    • Package statement on some: “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts, almonds, and wheat.”
  • Gummy Body Parts
    • Package statement on some: “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, milk and soy.”

HERSHEY

  • Jolly Rancher Hard Candy and Hard Candy Sticks

IMPACT CONFECTIONS

  • Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes

JELLY BELLY

  • Jelly Belly Jelly Beans

JUST BORN

  • Mike & Ike
  • Hot Tamales
  • Peeps Pumpkins and Ghosts

NECCO

  • Necco Wafers

RIVIERA

  • Spooky Candy Rings (eyeballs, Frankenstein heads and other shapes on rings)

SPANGLER (may contain traces of soy oil)

  • Dum Dums
  • Chewy Pops
  • Saf-T-Pops
  • Circus Peanuts
  • Candy Canes
  • Chewy Canes

TOOTSIE

  • Dots

WRIGLEY

  • Starburst
  • Skittles, Skittle Sour and Skittle Crazy Cores
  • Lifesavers Hard Candy and Lifesavers Pops
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy (except some flavors, like Butter Rum)
    • Ingredients contain: soy lecithin (some flavors)
  • Lifesavers Gummies, Big Ring Gummies regular and Sweet and Sour

WONKA

  • Bottlecaps, Everlasting Gobstopper, Runts, Fun Dip and Fun Dip Sour, Pixy Stix, Sweetarts (regular), Tart N Tinys, Nerds, Spree
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that also processes wheat and egg.” (Sweetarts)
  • Giant Chewy Nerds
    • Package statement: “Made on equipment that also processes peanuts, nuts, milk, wheat and soy.”

Natural/specialty candies:

AMANDA’S OWN CONFECTIONS (www.amandasown.com)

  • Chocolate shapes and chocolate lollipops

ANNIE’S

  • Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (Flavors: Tropical Treat, Berry Patch, Sunny Citrus, Summer Strawberry)

ENJOY LIFE (www.enjoylifefoods.com)

  • Boom CHOCO Boom Dark Chocolate Bar, Crispy Rice Bar, Milk Bar

INDIE CANDY (www.indiecandy.com)

  • Halloween Chocolate Lollipops, Halloween Crystal Lollipops, Halloween Gummies

PURE FUN (www.organiccandy.com)

  • Halloween Pure Pops
    • Ingredient statement: “Manufactured in a segregated area of a facility that may product products containing nuts.”

SURF SWEETS (www.surfsweets.com)

  • Gummy Worms, Gummy Swirls, Gummy Bears, Fruity Bears, Jelly Beans, Sour Worms, Sour Berry Bears

YUMMY EARTH (www.yummyearth.com)

  • Lollipops, Candy Drop, Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms

Looking for non-candy ideas for Halloween? Read How to have an allergy-free Halloween.


Food Allergy Walk 2010 in San Francisco Sept 25

Posted on September 21st, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Food Allergies, SF Bay Area, Upcoming Events | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

faan-walkShow your support for food allergy awareness this weekend in San Francisco! I regret that I cannot attend this year, as I have the last two years, and though I have not asked for donations, I will personally be donating to FAAN and encourage you to do so also.

Walk Details:

  • Date: Saturday, September 25, 2010
  • Time: Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.; Walk begins at 9:30 a.m.
  • Location: Golden Gate Park – Music Concourse Bandshell, between the de Young Museum and CA Academy of Sciences
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Restrictions: No pets, glass bottles, bikes, roller skates, or skate boards. Baby strollers and wagons are welcomed.

To Donate:
Donate to a San Francisco walker or team or to anyone walking for FAAN all over the country.

WHY WALK or DONATE?

  • To find a cure for food allergies
  • To increase awareness of food allergy and the effect it has on a community
  • To provide understanding, hope, and an opportunity for a child with food allergy to simply be a child
  • To save a life!

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), more than 12 million Americans, or one in every 25, have food allergies. Included in that number are 3.1 million children. The incidence of peanut allergy doubled in children over a five-year period (1997-2002). For many, food allergy is more than just hives – an allergic reaction can be deadly.

Over the years, FAAN has been at the forefront of progress in food allergy research. Findings from research studies have been used to change federal and state laws, improve school policies, raise public awareness, improve the daily lives of individuals with food allergy, and provide education for patients, caregivers, and health professionals.

Please donate or walk to help raise money to advance FAAN’s mission of education, advocacy, research, and awareness.


First allergic reaction at school

Posted on September 7th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Emotions, Food Allergies | Read 30 Comments - Add Your Own »

schoolkids1Well, it happened. My daughter had an allergic reaction on her 6th day of 1st grade. She never had a reaction when she was in kindergarten at the same school, and at first I couldn’t even figure out what had happened. But the mystery has been solved and I am left wondering how far I should go to protect my daughter.

Here’s what happened:

The school called me to tell me that my daughter was coughing and couldn’t stop, that she had left class and was in the office. They gave her water, but that didn’t help. I wasn’t thinking food allergy at all. I was thinking that she had a tickle in her throat, or maybe allergies to pollen. I didn’t react like it was an emergency. I headed for the school.

When I reached the school, her coughing had gotten worse and she couldn’t stop. Her breathing was affected, but she told me that she hadn’t eaten any food yet that day (it was still early). I was still trying to figure out what could have happened and asked her a bunch of questions as I drove her home. She was still coughing uncontrollably. At home I gave her Benadryl and waited. Luckily, her coughing gradually subsided and her breathing was better.

Later that day I spoke to the teacher and told her that I couldn’t figure out what happened to my daughter but that it seemed like an allergic reaction. The teacher’s eyes got wide and she said, “Ask her if she was playing with Julia. She had a big glob of peanut butter on her shirt and I sent her to the bathroom to wash it off.”

Now, my daughter has never had peanuts in her life, nor has she had a reaction to peanuts. She tested positive for peanuts on the allergy test along with other nuts, so we are very careful, but it has never been tested in real life. Until now.

I asked her if she had played with Julia. No, she said. I asked her again if she played with Julia. No, she said again. Hmmm… I asked her if she touched her shirt by any chance? Yes! Why?? “Because her shirt was fuzzy and she said I could feel it if I wanted.” Bingo! Later I confirmed that the girl in her class had eaten some of her peanut butter sandwich at recess. My daughter touched the girls’s shirt right after recess and then her reaction started. Most likely my daughter put her fingers in her mouth as she sometimes does when she is doing her work.

According to the Food Allergy Action Plan given to me and to the school by our doctor, her coughing was a reaction that warranted the use of an epinephrine injection (Epi-Pen) because her throat and lungs were being affected, and the reaction can suddenly get more severe, leading to anaphylaxis. Because I didn’t think there was food involved, I was so slow to react. I’m not sure if I am in denial or just plain dumb, but this has been a real wake up call for me. I have a whole new perspective on the benefits of having a school be nut-free, but I am not sure I am ready to lead that fight, or even if I feel it is necessary, but it sure would be nice.

I know there are parents out there who feel that making a nut-free school puts a burden on them as parents of the non-nut-free kids. I know there are lots of children with issues surrounding food, but honestly, when you think about the fact that a child could die from touching a kid’s shirt, doesn’t it put things in perspective?

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, but I hope to at least raise some awareness about the dangers that kids with food allergies face. If you know your child’s friend has a life-threatening food allergy, talk to your child about it and suggest that he/she doesn’t bring that food item to school. Just today, one of my daughter’s friends told her dad to pack her a salami sandwich instead of peanut butter so that she could sit near my daughter at lunch. Kids are amazingly receptive and thoughtful when it comes down to it.  The grown-ups sometimes are the ones who need the convincing!


A case of nut allergy karma?

Posted on August 20th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Emotions, Food Allergies, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

nutsThis is amazing karma, but not the good kind…

Last year Joel Stein wrote an incredibly offensive piece about food allergies for the LA Times, to which I retaliated with my own article here, called What some (ignorant) people think about food allergies. Now, his own one year old son has been diagnosed with nut allergies.

There were many parents of children with food allergies who wished this karma on him. I didn’t, because I would never wish food allergies on anyone. Bluntly speaking (since this is how Stein likes to write), FOOD ALLERGIES SUCK! It is a burden for us as parents, for the kids themselves, and for pretty much everyone around them. As a parent of a first-grader with food allergies, I’m not sure how much Stein understands how challenging it really is yet, but at least now he believes food allergies are real!

He won’t be the last one that needs to be convinced about the reality of food allergies. Right now there is some kid sneaking peanut butter to school in his lunch because his parent packed it for him and told him to be quiet about it. We have more educating to do!

Read these other articles about Stein eating his words:


Adventures in Food Allergy Testing (Part 2: the Results)

Posted on June 23rd, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, Symptoms | Read 20 Comments - Add Your Own »

oneeggWell, we did it today. We did the egg challenge. The way it turned out was not at all what I expected. I documented the whole thing as it was happening, not knowing what the outcome would be as I scribbled my notes.

I brought my daughter in to the doctor at 9:15, one scrambled egg in tote (to find out why I decided to have her do an egg challenge, please read Adventures in Food Allergy Testing Part 1). I was also armed with ketchup, salt, some bread (egg-free) and some turkey, just in case she didn’t like the egg and I had to doctor it up. The taste of the egg wasn’t a problem at all. Here’s how the rest of the egg challenge went down:

9:25 am: She eats a tiny amount of egg. “Yummy,” she says and the doctor says, “She likes it — that’s good.” I am surprised she likes it so much.

9:35 am: Doctor comes in and examines her throat, face, skin and breath. There is no reaction. He says to eat a larger amount, so she eats about a teaspoonful. After a few minutes she says her ears itch inside a little and her tummy hurts a teeny, tiny bit. But after another few minutes, she doesn’t seem to be having any problem and continues to watch the movie on the DVD player I brought. She is even singing with the movie. 15 minutes later she says her tummy hurts again, but then she gets a drink of water and says she is fine.

10:00 am: Doctor checks her again, sees no sign of reaction and says she can eat 3 bites of egg. She again says “It’s yummy.” The doctor says again that the fact she likes it is a good sign.

10:25 am: Doctor checks her again. So far, so good. Now I am starting to get a little excited, thinking we are in the clear. She is excited too, but I tell her that we are not done and that she gets to eat the rest of the egg now. She doesn’t really want to, but she is motivated by the possibility of getting to eat eggs in the future. She takes a few bites and then says that her tummy hurts. She finishes the egg at 10:35.

10:45 am: She scratches her chin and I see that there is a little hive there. She is using her upper teeth to scratch her lower lip, where I see another hive and she is simultaneously scratching her lower arm where there is another hive. I go get the doctor. He checks her throat and says it is okay. She is feeling more and more itchy and uncomfortable. He gives her allergy medication (Zirtec) and wants to give her an adrenaline shot. I look at him wide-eyed — really? A shot of epinephrine? Is that necessary? I don’t want to freak her out and he says okay, we can wait and see and gives her an asthma pill just in case. By now, her eyes are really red and itching like crazy. Her tummy is hurting, she’s feeling awful and starts crying, “I want to go home!” As she is deteriorating before our eyes, the doctor says she needs the shot to reverse the symptoms more quickly. The nurse gives her a small dose (.5mg) of epinephrine in her arm. The regular epinephrine shot, most commonly known as the Epi-Pen, is .15mg and is administered in the thigh muscle for the fastest absorption into the body. When given in the subcutaneous fat level of the arm, it is absorbed more slowly. The doctor felt that this was all she would need. Nope.

11:10 am: She is lying down, feeling a little better. Her eyes are still itching like crazy, but she refuses to try eye drops to relieve them. She is really congested and begins to cough. The doctor checks her and finds that she has swelling in the right side of her throat. The coughing is a sign that her airways are being affected. The doctor orders another adrenaline shot, this time .1mg. I ask if this is a considered an anaphylactic reaction. The answer is yes, and this is why you do food challenges in the doctor’s office. No eggs for her, in any way, shape or form. I am feeling shocked. I thought she might have a rash today at most.

11:35 am: She is a little hyper from the adrenaline and feeling better. The doctor warned me that she might get pale lips from the epinephrine. Yes, her lips are looking pale.

11:50 am: I am reading a book to my daughter who is sitting on my lap when the doctor comes in for another check. “Flushed,” he says. I turn her around and my eyes must have bugged out of my head. Her face, chest and back are flushed so red she looks like she has a really bad sunburn. She also has a few hives on her back. “I think her reaction would have been much worse without the medication,” says the doctor. He checks her heart rate and it is okay, but because she is so flushed, he orders a third shot of epinephrine, this time .5mg. The red is traveling slowly down her body, and eventually reaches her legs, which eventually also look sunburned. She is cold, so they bring her a blanket. She is feeling much better and is in good spirits, but we have to stay another hour.

1:00 pm: After a few more checkups, the doctor determines that nothing is progressing any further and that we can go. She is still really red, but other than that, she is okay. She wouldn’t resume her normal color for another hour.

Before we left the doctor’s office, I confirmed with him that had this happened out in the world, I should have given her the Epi-Pen. Absolutely. “And even if you aren’t sure, just give it.”

So many thoughts have been swirling in my head since this experience. The first is, I can’t believe I didn’t cry. I was quite unemotional and I’m not sure why — maybe I was in shock? Or maybe because I felt like I was part of a science experiment. Or was it because I was playing it cool for my daughter’s sake so she wouldn’t freak out? It is sad news: my daughter had an anaphylactic reaction to an egg. So… we will continue to avoid egg, but be even more careful about it.

Another thought: Did I have false hope? With the 50% chance given by my doctor, I figured it was worth the gamble to try the egg. If we could have added it back into her diet, it would have been like winning a jackpot.

The most important realization of all: THIS IS REAL. FOOD ALLERGIES ARE REAL. Dare I say that part of me has at times wondered if she really was allergic to all these foods, that maybe the tests are overdiagnosing as several past news articles and editorial pieces have suggested, that maybe her tests weren’t accurate, that since we’ve never had to use the Epi-Pen, maybe we wouldn’t really need to. Even though this day did not bring me the happy results I wanted, it did bring me clarity. It brought me resolve to stay vigilant in protecting my daughter. It brought me confirmation that we need to continue to raise awareness about food allergies. After what I saw happen right in front of me today, I know for sure that they are real.

Related reading: Diary of a gluten poisoning


Adventures in Food Allergy Testing (Part 1)

Posted on June 12th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Egg Allergy, Food Allergies | Read 11 Comments - Add Your Own »

I am writing this post to help others who might need to go through allergy testing with their children. I was anxious before knowing what to expect and searched the web hoping to read about others’ experiences. Here is one of mine…

eggsLast week I brought my 5 (almost 6) year old daughter in to the allergist to repeat some food allergy tests. My primary motive was to get her cleared for eggs.  When she was a toddler, she got a rash on her face and body when she ate eggs. When I brought her in for skin allergy testing at age 18 months, she tested positive for eggs. We have avoided eggs ever since, but an article in Allergic Living magazine called Allergy Breakthrough on Baked Milk and Egg inspired me to take her back in.

In addition, my allergist has assured me every time we visit that most of his egg-allergic patients eventually outgrow their egg allergy. To add eggs into her diet would be so helpful as cooking and baking gluten-free is challenging enough!

I was also hoping that I could add almonds into her diet. She had consistently tested negative for almonds, but we were advised to avoid all nuts because she tested high for peanuts, cashews and pistachios. There is a lot of cross-contamination with nuts, and possible confusion about which nuts are safe and which are not — better to just avoid them all. But, I thought, if I could ensure that certain almonds or almond products were not contaminated with other nuts, there would be another food I could add to her diet.

At the allergist’s office this time, they tested her for the following: eggs, almonds, 6 different types of shellfish (she had tested allergic to shellfish before), and many different environmental allergens including grass, various pollens, cat and dog. The environmental allergens were done because she has been having itchy eyes and a stuffy and irritated nose, and the allergist said that her nose was swollen inside.

The test consisted of 3 sets of “stamps” on her back, and then one on her arm. The stamps are 6 tiny little pricks with a different allergen going into the skin. If a “wheal” or a welt shows up, it means that the person is reacting to the allergen. When she was younger she completely freaked out about the prick tests, but this time she didn’t even flinch. I’m glad she couldn’t see the egg reaction developing on her back though.

Here are the results of the skin prick test:

  • Egg: positive :(
  • Almond: positive :(
  • Shellfish: negative :)
  • Environmental allergens: all or almost all positive :(

Here are the recommendations from the doctor:

  • Egg: do an egg challenge in the office. The doctor says that even among kids with a positive skin test for eggs, 50% can actually tolerate eggs. The egg challenge is scheduled for June 23rd. She will, over a few hours, consume one cooked egg as she is being monitored for a reaction. We’ll see what happens!
  • Almonds: forget it. All nuts are out. No challenge because nuts are considered risky.
  • Shellfish: looks like she is cleared for shellfish, although he wants to do a shellfish challenge in his office given the fact that I think I am allergic to shrimp and abalone and don’t eat it anymore (based on experience). But for the most part, it’s looking good!
  • Environmental: “Close the windows.” Yes, that was really the advice from the doctor. And Claritin as needed.

Stay tuned for Adventures in Food Allergy Testing Part 2 after we do the egg challenge on June 23rd!


Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival June 2010

Posted on June 10th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Blog Events, Food Allergies | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

Welcome to the June 10, 2010 edition of living with food allergies carnival! For readers who don’t know what a blog carnival is, think of it like a magazine of articles that gets published on a schedule. Every two weeks, bloggers submit an article related to food allergy to be published by the host blogger. We hope that we can all learn from each other and introduce our readers to other food allergy sites out there.

Here are the articles submitted for this edition:

COOKING & BAKING & EATING

ISSUES, AWARENESS, EMOTIONS & ADVICE

  • Jane Anne presents Peanut Allergy Fallout posted at Gravity of Motion, saying, “We can all learn from allergy kids. My son is constantly teaching me through his allergy journey and I often learn principles that apply to all of life.”

That concludes this edition! Thank you to everyone who submitted their articles! Submit your blog article to the next edition of living with food allergies carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.