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?

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20 responses to “She Says… Of All Things

  1. That IgE number is SO close to normal it’s practically normal. Could be he has a tiny bump on that number simply because he does eat a lot of oats. Did they test for corn? That’s another common high allergen grain. It’s great to know he was non-reactive to all those other common allergens.

  2. I never even considered “oat dust” as a potential issue. My baby buzzes through oatmeal like crazy, it’s hard to imagine her being allergic to that, but it’s better oats than milk! Maybe you’ll have to get into alternative grains for breakfast?

    I’m disappointed to learn that you have a bowl of oatmeal every morning yet you deprive us of a picture! Geez, I guess we need to send you back to Healthy Blogging 101. 🙂

  3. @Nancy, Hmmm, that’s good to know. He hasn’t had oats in 3-4 weeks because once I found out my Beech Nut oats had wheat in them, I stopped giving them to him (since I thought he was allergic to wheat), and hadn’t gotten to the right store to get pure baby oats. We didn’t test for corn, though the Nutramigen formula he’s on now is based in corn solids (yuck! I wish it wasn’t!), and he has whole kernel corn often and doesn’t seem to have an issue with that.

  4. I had to point it out: Of All Things = O.A.T. Hee hee…
    Also I thought should mention, although I am 100% sure you’re already on top of that -Aveeno has oats in it so you might want to avoid their products…
    It must feel so good to finally know for sure that little Owen is NOT alergic to all those other things and that you can safely give it to him!! Yay! 🙂

  5. So glad you have a culprit!! Even if it is something as wonderful as oats!!

  6. I hope it’s something Owen will grow out of! I don’t know what I would do without Cheerios. Glad he’s OK for all those other things – I guess oats ARE easier to avoid than things like dairy, and since his number is so low for oats, maybe it’s just a sensitivity and he’ll get over it as he gets older.

  7. @Julie: Rice Checks, Corn Checks, Kix are good. Puffed rice or crumbled rice cakes, too. (note: I have NOT read the labels!)

  8. well at least you have some answers!!! sure are good test results when you have that many “no”s. hopefully he will outgrow the allergy sooner or later though.

  9. Seriously?! Wow! It’s a good thing you threw that out there at the last minute for testing otherwise it was a real stumper! It’s a good thing he came back negative for all of the others for sure. Cameron is currently on a box of barley cereal for breakfast because they were out of organic oatmeal the last time I shopped and he seems to think it’s the same thing because I dress it up the same way with cinnamon and fruit. Yes, oats are big in our house too so that would be tough. I know nothing about allergies, but since his number seems relatively close to “normal” I do hope that he grows out of it. Looks like the allergy testing was helpful after all!

  10. I’m not a good person on this subject – I always thought/was told that allergy tests still don’t tell you a whole lot at this age even if they’re positive, because it still doesn’t mean they have an allergy to that item, necessarily? Weird!

  11. Oats. Wow–who would have thought? At least now you know and hopefully he will grow out of it with levels that close to normal.

  12. Sounds like you’ve already been reading up, but I just wanted to remind you that even blood tests for allergies performed by doctors are shockingly prone to false results. Definitely makes sense to de-oat-ify and start re-adding other foods to his diet. But, you might experiment with re-adding oats after he’s had some detox time, especially with that test result, and especially since his reaction is not severe.

  13. cinnamon is a no no for my baby…..red rash around mouth afterwards 😛

  14. Oats will probably definitely be easier to avoid than dairy or wheat! For what it’s worth, a food intolerance like celiac’s disease is actually an autoimmune issue and won’t necessarily show up on an allergy test so don’t cross cow’s milk protein and wheat gluten off the list just yet! Hopefully whatever it is your little cutie will grow out of it soon! 😀

  15. Owen may grow out of this but, in the meantime, since Cheerios are almost a baby staple (finger food), you can get oat free “Cheerios” – called “Whole O’s” made by Nature’s Path. They are made from corn and rice. I quite like them – being celiac I have to avoid wheat, rye and barley and can have oats very rarely, provided they are milled in a gf facility. Look in the gf section of your supermarket and you will probably find lots of cereals that are oat free. A hot cereal that I love is gluten free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal, made by Bob’s Red Mill.

  16. I didn’t even know oats was a possible allergy! Interesting- and I’m glad it is something that is easily avoidable until he (hopefully!) outgrows it 🙂

  17. At least it’s something relatively easy to avoid, and he’ll probably grow out of it! As for your breakfasts, quinoa can very easily be doctored up like oatmeal. It’s freaking divine in the morning.

  18. I had an oat allergy as a child. It is near impossible to avoid, sorry. If you cook a lot at home, you can probably avoid it. Also, you can look into ordering real wheat online (or somewhere else) and make breads that way. You will have to mill/grind it yourself though and it takes some more work. We have started doing it and are still trying to work out the kinks lol. I outgrew the allergy around puberty though and haven’t had an issue with that one since (my chicken allergy stuck around though, BOO!)

  19. Wow that IS good news! What a relief that all those other things are not allergies for him. I know it’s a bummer because oats rock but at least it isn’t a huge food group.

  20. cwebster2016

    I am allergic to oats, and it is is simultaneously easy and difficult to avoid. The thing is some farmers rotate oat and wheat in their fields, and some factories process oats and wheat with the same equipment. If a factory makes granola bars or oat cereal, then, depending on the severity of the allergy, he could react to anything made by that company. If a company makes oatmeal raisin cookies, the threat is present. Whole wheat bread is out because of oats either on top or in the bread. The biggest issue in avoiding it will be cross contamination.

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