Aside from a panic at four weeks when she developed a horrid eczema-type rash across her face and neck (which disappeared three fraught weeks later, during which we were thinking ‘bloody brilliant, another allergy baby’) she has seemed, dare I say it, to be allergy free.
Weaning has gone well. We’ve introduced soya, dairy, banana and wheat and she’s stuffed the lot. No rashes, no hives.
She reaches and grabs for food and gazes longingly at our meals in a way that Sidney never did. I find this fascinating. I’ve often heard other allergy parents say their little ones never grabbed food or seemed interested in what others were eating. Some sort of in-built self-defence mechanism? Who knows? Sadie, on the other hand, covets everything edible. She has big fat squodgy thighs and a wobbly bottom. Lovely.
And today was the day we got her tested.
When we started weaning, I asked Sidney’s allergist for advice on whether we should avoid anything. He said to feel free with all meat and veg but go slowly with banana and wheat – the two allergies Sidney has now outgrown. As for the biggies – nuts, peanuts, eggs and sesame – he advised we get Sadie skin prick tested at her brother’s next appointment.
In the interim, though, I had heard talk of skin prick testing sensitising non-allergic children to foods they had never eaten. And there were reports of doctors advising children who tested negative to continue to eat those foods regularly to maintain tolerance. This was a Catch-22. We wanted to know whether Sadie was clear. We wouldn’t want to actively encourage an allergy. But neither did we want to start introducing eggs, nuts or sesame into our home now that we had established it as a safe environment guaranteed to be free of any contaminant for Sidney.
In the end, our doctor was not so doom-and-gloom. There is some suggestion – via immunotherapy injections for pollen allergy at the Royal Brompton Hospital – that deeper than surface skin introduction can actually build tolerance. And, given Sadie showed no other signs of atopy, such as eczema, there was no reason to suspect that she might develop an allergy to a food she had tested negative for whether or not she went on to eat it regularly.
In the end, we decided that knowing where we stood would be a massive weight off our shoulders.
So baby had her skin prick test…
And we are allergy free!
Who knows why? The probability of a sibling also developing a food allergy is fairly low, anyway, at eight per cent. I did what was within my power, namely taking doctor-recommended probiotics in the final weeks of pregnancy and early months of breastfeeding. I tried to avoid a second C-Section (Caesarians are implicated in the development of food allergy) but fell flat at the last hurdle with that plan. When Sadie had her baby rash we washed our hands religiously before touching her, for fear we might sensitise her broken skin to certain foods (as I suspect we did with Sidney when his eczema was at its worst and we unwittingly grappled him while munching on egg sandwiches and peanut butter on toast). But, in the end, as our “Dr Bob” put it, who can say for sure? Perhaps it’s just different genes.