She Says… The Great Allergy Experiment Update

It’s been 9 full days since we started The Great Allergy Experiment, removing all dairy and wheat from Owen’s diet. The impatient side of me wanted immediate results. I wanted those cheeks to clear in two days so I had my magic bullet answer. BAM.

As anyone who has ever done an elimination diet or a similar test on their own body knows, that’s not how it happens.

It is slow. And painstaking. And so gradual you might not even notice it at first. However, I have slowly but surely seen an improvement in Owen’s eczema. In fact, this morning the skin on his cheeks even felt smoother and almost all of the red bumps were gone. He scratched his face last night so he had a little scab, but other than that, his cheeks were wholly clear. CLEAR. The change has been so gradual that it was almost hard to recognize, but when I look back at these pictures of his cheeks from several weeks ago,  it’s obvious just how far we’ve come.

I really think I’ve figured it out. And although we’ve eliminated both milk and wheat, I have a strong feeling that the issue here is milk. Cow’s milk proteins to be more exact, not lactose. People often confuse a cow’s milk protein allergy with lactose intolerance, when really, they are completely separate issues that bother completely different parts of the baby’s body. While the idea of an allergy to cow’s milk proteins makes me sad for Owen (a life with no cheese! no milk! no butter! no baked goods with milk or butter!), I read a statistic that keeps me optimistic. Of the 3% of babies who are allergic to milk, most outgrow this allergy by age 3.

Three is really not that far away. I can handle keeping him milk-free until then. Obviously if he’s one of the unlucky ones who is allergic for the rest of his life, we’ll deal with it, and, as a reader suggested a few posts ago, learn to see it as an opportunity to try new things.

In the meantime, we’re going to keep him on the (expensive and yucky smelling) Nutramigen formula and do a blood test for milk and wheat allergies at his 9 month well visit. Even though this isn’t the diagnosis I was hoping for, it is exciting to have a possible plausible answer to why Owen’s poor cheeks have been covered in a rash for the last 4 months.

I’m still not putting all my eggs in one basket, though.

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15 responses to “She Says… The Great Allergy Experiment Update

  1. If Owen truly has a milk protein ALLERGY, even the nutrimegin formula will bother him to a degree. If it’s an intolerance, then he should be fine. (does that make sense?). That hypoallergenic formula is derived from cow’s milk, so there are trace, trace amounts. That’s why our baby is on Neocate which is an amino acid formula and completely free of milk and soy.

    Also, you should consider avoiding soy. My baby’s GI doc said those allergies are closely connected. I think it’s more a matter of the babies aren’t ready to digest complex proteins yet.

    I’m glad Owen’s skin is clearing up!

  2. So glad his skin is clearing up. A friend of mine’s son outgrew his milk allergy, so there is hope! Hopefully the bloodwork will come back conclusive and give you comfort that your suspicions are right but I am a firm believer in mama’s intuition and you seem to have a good grip on what’s going on. Cheers for smooth cheeks 🙂

  3. @Kara, Great points. We have been avoiding soy too. I’ve also heard that babies who are allergic to dairy are generally also allergic to soy. And if the cheeks don’t totally go away after this two week test, we’re going to switch to the even more expensive (and, I can only imagine, stinkier) Neocate. Maybe Owen just wants to be like Faith 🙂 I’m hoping we won’t have to go that far, so we’re trying the first step with stuff we can buy at the grocery store to see if that’s even the allergy we should be looking at.

  4. Mom’s intuition is a remarkable thing, isn’t it?? Fingers crossed that he outgrows this.

  5. The only perk of Neocate? No odor at all. Even less stinky than normal formula. I think it’s made of unicorn tears (which explains the price)

  6. So glad you are seeing some improvements. I hope that Owen will out grow the allergy as a life without dairy would not be fun 😦

  7. Does Owen drink the nutramigen formula ok? My Owen has a dairy intolerance and hated it. He refused to drink it. At the time, I was breastfeeding, so I just eliminated dairy from my diet. I started needing to supplement, and my doctor told me to try a soy formula since Owen was refusing the soy. Thankfully, he didn’t have any reactions to the soy, so we’ve stuck with that. My ped says that babies outgrow it at 4-5 months, so I tried eating dairy again at 4 months and he had issues again….now that he’s 5 1/2 months I’m trying a little dairy again and so far he’s been ok. Now I’m breastfeeding even less, so he is probably getting less dairy from me now than when we were exclusively breastfeeding….although that does mean he’s getting more soy formula….but again, he still seems to be doing ok. Whoever thought feeding babies was so difficult?

  8. A friend of mine had to go dairy and soy free for almost a year while she breastfed her daughter who was allergic to milk proteins. However, she switched to Nutramigen when she weaned and her daughter did OK with it. After she was a year old she started drinking regular cow’s milk and has never had a problem with it. And her younger brother has had no negative reactions to milk at all. I think most kids grow out of it. Whatever happens, it will be a relief to know for sure what the problem is!

  9. God forbid he has this allergy for life, but if he does, remember that cheese and milk don’t come specifically from cows. He can still have sheep and goat products, and baking with almond or light coconut milk is EASY. The only complication is that you’d have to measure in grams (see http://glutenfreegirl.com/why-we-dont-use-cups-in-our-recipes/…the site’s not just for people with gluten issues. She works all sorts of magic). Gluten-Free Girl’s daughter cannot tolerate cow’s milk either, so she eats coconut milk dessert instead of ice cream. She is just two, but she doesn’t care in the slightest. Hope this all works out in Owen’s favor! There are too many good foods out there!

  10. A member of my family has a cow’s milk protein allergy. Through some careful experimentation, we’ve found as long as the cow milk product has been cooked reasonably well, it doesn’t bother her. You should be able to find some lit. on how long and at what temperature for the protein to be broken down. If the protein is actually broken down, then it’s not present for the body to react to, assuming it is the protein you’re allergic to.

    It means that things like baked goods and lasagna are still fine (as long as they don’t sprinkle Parmesan on top at the end!), which opens things up a bit and makes restaurant eating a lot easier. Still, a lot of things which are cooked, like cream sauces, are often not cooked long enough for the milk proteins to be broken down. So, you definitely need to be careful.

  11. Even if he has the allergy past age three. I know a vegan who can find a substitute with all those foods you mentioned!

  12. Hi Kate. We had the “food allergy panel” blood test for B at his 1 year appointment. I am glad you guys are having this done. It will tell you once and for all exactly what he’s allergic to. B was allergic to cow’s milk protein for his entire first year — to the point where he had blood in his stool, violent reflux, and could only tolerate “elemental formula” made with amino acids. It was a tough year BUT when he turned 1, he magically outgrew the allergy! His blood test revealed NO food allergies anymore. His eczema (he had it too) has cleared up, the reflux stopped, and he is completely fine. He drinks whole milk now like a champ. So, hang in there! Nothing at this stage is permanent… {hugs}

  13. Hi there, I think the Today show used your You Tube clip when you announced you were pregnant!

  14. I said above that my friend’s daughter was on Nutramigen but I was wrong; it was Alimentum. Just correcting myself. 🙂

  15. My older sister’s twin daughters were both terribly allergic to cow’s milk proteins when they were small. They’re 6 years old now and they can eat all the milk, cheese, and butter they want! So it is quite likely that your little boy will outgrow it. 🙂

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