Is she or isn’t she..?

IMG_7712SADIE-SOO is eight months old.

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…

IMG_7781

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.

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8 thoughts on “Is she or isn’t she..?

  1. Elizabeth

    Fantastic news! I am a friend of Katherine Philips in Oxford who told me about your blog (which is great btw) and am hoping that my 3rd child (now 4 months) will also be allergy free. You give me hope!

      1. Elizabeth

        Yes first two very food allergic. First has outgrown most of his now apart from kiwi but second still anaphylactic to milk, eggs, nuts and mildly allergic to loads of others. It is so true about weaning, he was never interested so I am hoping that her intent staring at people eating is a good sign! 🙂

  2. Julia Marriott

    So pleased for you that things went well today, but don’t necessarily agree with the attitude to food of allergic vs non allergic babies. My youngest loved weaning, loved food, would eat anything and everything given to him. Totally different experience from the one with my first (became fussy after stomach bug at 9 months – first week started nursery) yet has more allergies. I also see lots of multiple allergy kids at work whose parents get very distressed about not just being able to give them anything as their child is constantly watching them eat and trying to grab for food. Also see lots of the other extreme…

    1. Thanks – that’s interesting… I wonder if anyone’s ever done any studies (doubt it!). I think having a child who has allergies AND constantly covets other people’s food must be absolutely hellish. I guess in that respect we’ve been lucky.

  3. Great news, my eldest daughter, 4, is egg and dairy allergic but my nearly 2 year old is also allergy free! I weaned her late on eggs and avoided the more allergenic dairy like ice cream and cheese until she was a year old. Now she enjoys all these foods with no problems.

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