Daily Archives: April 27, 2011

She Says… Of All Things

Owen’s allergy blood tests came back today. I haven’t had a chance to debrief with our doctor yet, but I accessed the test results online and then commenced a furious Google search.

Milk: No
Egg whites: No
Egg yolks: No
Wheat: No
Casein: No
Oats: YES

Wha? That’s definitely not what I thought was going to happen. Leave it to my little medical mystery baby to throw us another curveball. Oats. Of all things.

I say “of all things”, because you should see the amount of oats that pass through this house. They are the one thing in our pantry I am sure NEVER to run out of. Benjamin and I eat them every morning. I use them in almost all of my baking. They were the first or second grain Owen ever ate. Heck, they are one of the first foods most babies eat! Oats. Who knew. I wasn’t even going to check for them, but just before getting Owen’s blood sample, the doctor said, “Is there ANYTHING else you can think of that you’d like to test him for?”. I replied, “I don’t know, what other grains might he be allergic to? Oats, maybe?”. Oats indeed.

Here’s the thing about oat allergies: They are relatively uncommon. That’s why parents are told that baby oatmeal is a perfect first food. It also explains why Owen’s eczema started showing up a few weeks after we started solid food, despite introducing one new fruit/veggie at a time and watching for a reaction. I guess I thought oats and rice cereal were a given. The eczema reaction (slow and gradual as it was) was to the oatmeal that I had been mixing with those other foods, little by little, to get the right consistency.

Although I am sad for my baby to be diagnosed with an allergy, I think this is a really positive outcome. Oats, as far as I know, should be pretty easy to avoid. I don’t think they are often hidden in other ingredients under different names like milk and wheat often are (though correct me if I’m wrong!). From what I’ve read, though, it sounds like inhaled oat dust can actually cause an allergic reaction like the persistent cough and runny nose that Owen has had since January. I have been blaming that on daycare germs, but I wonder, now, if eliminating oat dust in our house could also eliminate the extra boogers and hacking cough we’ve grown so used to dealing with. That means no more morning oats at the table with Owen. But it’s a price we’re more than happy to pay.

And unfortunately it sounds like oat dust can sometimes be present in other grains like wheat flour due to cross-contamination in processing. That’s a huge bummer; that we can’t be sure of exactly what we’re getting even if the package says “wheat flour”. The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, Owen’s allergic reaction is pretty mild (eczema just on his cheeks), so if he’s unknowingly exposed it’s not an issue of life or death.

The best news? Several websites I read stated that children diagnosed with this allergy often spontaneously get over it. Owen’s IgE level was .39 instead of the normal <.35, which I believe is pretty low. So that gives me hope that this is a minor thing that won’t plague him for the rest of his life.

Off to de-oat dust-ify our kitchen…

Do you have any experience with an allergy to oats or other grains? Anything else I should be avoiding while we give Owen’s little system time to recover?