Lifestyle Motherhood

How Having a Baby With Food Allergies Changed Everything

This week is the one year anniversary of our discovering that Luna had allergies.  Kain had no issues with any foods, so I never considered for that she would have any problems arise when she started eating solid foods.  One year later, I am finally ready to tell her story.

When my daughter was born, she was absolutely perfect.  She was exactly 8 pounds and was the most content baby.  Barely a cry ever escaped her lips.  Nurse, smile, poop, smile, sleep, nurse, on repeat for the first few months of her life.  Just like her brother, she breastfed without any problems, so there was never any indication that she had any problems.

When she was 4 months old, I started to notice some skin irritation on her face.  She actually started to develop weird white patches on her face. This turned out to be loss of pigment due to eczema.  We started a regiment of hydro-cortisone cream and moisturizer so that she didn’t develop scars on her face.

Fast-forward to when she turned 6 months and was ready to begin eating solid foods.  She took to food amazing and spent the first week experimenting with vegetables, fruits and meats through baby-led weaning.  About a week into her solid food journey, we had to travel for a wedding.  Whenever we travel to my hometown, we all end up with stuffy noses and allergy like symptoms, so we weren’t surprised when Luna developed the same reaction to being in the country.

A couple of days into our trip, we spent the afternoon at Kings Landing, then headed to Costco for some groceries.  At Costco, there were samples of yogurt.  We decided to give Luna one as she was doing so well with food and it seemed like a harmless treat.  Within about 15 minutes of eating it, she began to cry quite a bit, which was uncharacteristic of her.  We had promised Kain a stop in at the Country Pumpkin, so I rode in the back to try to settle her.

At the pumpkin things became worse.  By this point she had large amounts of mucus coming from her nose and she even began to vomit.  Her eyes were watery and red and she continued to cry.  I know now that this is a type of anaphylaxis, but then, I figured she was bothered by all the animals we had been around all day.  I decided to stop in to the pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist about Benadryl.  After administering Benadryl, Luna slept all night and seemed fine the next day.

The evening after her first reaction

Never considering that small amount of yogurt had been the culprit, we carried on solid food back at home.  A couple of days after this first event, while eating yogurt and fruit, Luna started to cry and scratch her face.  That is when I noticed the hives and realized that the dairy might be the culprit.  At only 6 months old, her referral to Halifax Allergy and Asthma was a quick process.  Only a couple of weeks after the first reaction, she was seen by an allergist.  He performed a scratch test that confirmed the dairy suspicion but also uncovered another surprise allergy, peanuts.

Hives around her mouth and chin after consuming one bite of yogurt

As a mother, you tend to worry a fair amount.  Confirming that my baby had multiple food allergies took the amount of worrying to the next level.  There was an  adjustment period, spending much more time reading food labels and learning to substitute ingredients.  It became our new normal to avoid all dairy and peanuts for Luna.

It was and is second nature for our immediate family to be hyper vigilant when offering food to Luna.  This is why it came as a shock at her first birthday party when she came in contact with one of her allergens.  We don’t know what or how, but her little face was swollen and covered in hives as she opened her gifts.  Seeing her like this solidified the importance of triple checking labels and always checking in before feeding her anything.

On her birthday after having an accidental exposure

Shortly after her first birthday, we began a new journey.  Because we discovered her peanut allergy at such a young age, she was eligible to take part in a peanut oral immunotherapy.  She began eating a small amount (6 mg) of peanut flour everyday mixed in apple sauce.  Every two weeks, her dosage increased (12 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, 100 mg,  125 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 250 mg) until she reached the maintenance dose of 300 mg.  On a couple of occasions, she experienced a few hives on her lips where some of the apple sauce touched. Other than these times she has tolerated treatment well.  She will continue at this maintenance dose for 6 months.  Studies have shown that introducing this oral immunotherapy between ages 9 months and 3 years has an 80% chance of success.

Seeing her do so well with treatment gives us hope that she will one day grow out of her allergies, or at the very least be safe if she comes in contact with her allergens.  When we return to her allergist in March, we will have more information on what is next.  For now we have things under control.

In the meantime, I have made it my mission to educate people on the importance of information regarding allergies.  Food Allergy Canada has many good resources about safety and information courses offered.  Especially around Halloween, information about allergies is essential.

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