‘Demystifying Oral Food Challenges’

oral-food-challenge-gold-standardJUST a quick link here to a very helpful, step-by-step guide to oral food challenges from the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation. It hails from the US but maps out how to prepare your child and what to expect. Thanks to Dairy Free Baby and Me for the tip.

I particularly like the point about how a reaction (i.e. failing an oral challenge) can be a learning opportunity: until last week, Sidney had never even eaten any egg, so the notion of being allergic to it was entirely abstract. While not particularly pleasant, he now knows that eating just a small amount can make him feel unwell – perhaps enough for him to recognise an allergic reaction should it happen again.

Well worth a read.

Skin prickles, Peppa Pig, peas & more: allergy tests at three

IMG_7785IT’S BEEN a year since we last had Sidney skin prick tested and in that intervening period we’ve come on in leaps and bounds.

The wheat allergy bit the dust this summer and, since having a succession of negative and low skin prick results, we’ve been able to introduce some new foods: cannellini beans, butter beans, baked beans, coconut, mango, pineapple, melon, kiwi… The culinary world is opening up, and for that I am hugely grateful.

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Is it safe to wheat?

imagesI CAN SCARCELY believe it but we are on Day Nine of a taste challenge for wheat and a helping of two entire Weetabix for breakfast has heralded not even the whisper of a reaction.

Could he have outgrown his wheat allergy?

To be fair, Sidney’s allergist has long been of the opinion that he would lose this one sooner or later – I think he cited an 80 per cent probability – and he was surprised when our last oral challenge a year and a half ago saw Sid react to a tablespoon of Weetabix.

If I’m totally honest I’m a bit discombobulated. I’m not sure I quite know what to do next. We’re so well-versed in the art of avoiding wheat that it all feels a bit, well, odd. We’re almost institutionalised into the world of wheat free – I’m an expert at knowing which brands of pasta, bread and biscuits to look for. If I can go shopping for actual proper wheat versions I think I might flounder at the choice.

Of course we’re delighted, don’t get me wrong. It’s opening up a whole new realm of shopping and cooking and eating. I keep thinking of the things that, finally, Sidney can have: cous cous, for instance. Bulgar wheat. Actual proper pizza. Home-made bread (try as I might I’ve never mastered the art of gluten free bread baking). Surely making cakes will be easier, now? Ditto pastry. I think we can probably buy filo. We can all sit down together for a plate of pasta – just what I hankered for all those months ago when we first learned of his allergies.

On the other hand, I now almost feel like a fraud, as if losing the wheat allergy disqualifies us from proper allergic status. I wholeheartedly recommend starting off with as many infant allergies as possible – it means if you shed one or two along the way it feels like you’re barely having to deal with anything at all.

Of course, this is nonsense. We still boast severe, potentially anaphylactic, allergies to egg, nuts and sesame, and chickpeas, lentils and peas remain firmly on the list. Even if wheat is now possible we can’t risk buying fresh bread from our local bakery or eating it when out, because of the risk of cross contamination with eggs, seeds or nuts. And if we should ever pluck up the courage to order pizza or pasta from a restaurant we would have to preface any visit with a battery of questions about cross contamination, cleaning procedures, ingredients and more.

The thing is, wheat was probably one of the easiest of all the allergies to deal with. Not only has Sidney thankfully never been allergic to wheat by touch, only ingestion, but gluten free is such big business these days that it’s been the least of our concerns.

Then there’s the fact that many of the companies that make gluten free foods (Dove’s Farm for flour and biscuits, Nairn’s for porridge, Orgran for pastas, Dietary Specials for breads, Venice Bakery for pizzas) are all mega clued up when it comes to egg, nut and sesame allergy so the products are safe all round. Will ‘normal’ wheat products have such stringent processes in place?

Seriously, allergies can make you quite, quite nuts.

Hello, Hazel

Unknown-1GOOD news: we are OK with hazelnuts!

After scoring a zero on Sidney’s last two skin prick tests, we were given the go-ahead to try a taste challenge at home. Actually, we were given the go-ahead a year ago but couldn’t for the life of us find any hazelnuts in their shells (naked ones run the risk of being contaminated by other nuts) until Christmas. And then I had a baby and we only got round to it now.

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