She Says… Passing the Test

When we saw the pediatric pulmonologist a few weeks ago about Owen’s breathing issues and recurrent pneumonia, she was amazingly thorough and careful and talked with us about all kinds of things that were not directly related to his asthma. One of those things was Owen’s food allergies/sensitivities. Those who have been reading for awhile know that he had a multitude of issues when we were breastfeeding (some food-related and some not), which eventually gave way to troublesome eczema, which we eventually, after months and months of trial and error, figured out was due to a mild oat allergy and a sensitivity to wheat.

Since last March or so, we cut oats and wheat out of his diet and his eczema and eating issues totally disappeared. For a long time, whenever he would find an errant Cheerio at daycare or stuff a bread crumb in his mouth, we could tell. The red, bumpy rash reappeared in patches and stayed around for a few days. Usually after that the inflammation would migrate to his ears and then he’d get an ear infection. Even though the doctor kept telling me that his IgE number was so close to normal that he wouldn’t even consider it a real problem (“just don’t give him a bowl full of oats”, was his advice), the cycles of rash and ear infection were enough for me to cut these two things out of Owen’s diet entirely. It wasn’t really hard once I knew what to be on the lookout for. Sure, he couldn’t eat most cereals or breads that his buddies are eating, but there are gluten free versions of just about everything. And, frankly, I liked having the excuse “Oh, he has food allergies” when people tried to offer him all kinds of unhealthy snacks. The only time he probably ever notices it is at snacktime at daycare. We send in a snack each day since they are often providing things like cereals and crackers that Owen can’t eat. Side note: It is AMAZING to me how many people hand food to little children without even thinking. Cookies at the library, animal crackers while waiting in line at the grocery store, donuts while getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts, etc. Don’t they realize that they should ASK the parents first?!

Now back to the pulmonologist appointment. She reiterated what I had already read online, which is that many kids who have mild food sensitivities and allergies when they are babies grow out of them, most by age 2. Our original plan had been to keep Owen off of oats and wheat entirely until he turned 2 (and to wait to introduce peanuts and shellfish, given his history), give his gut a good year to seal up and strengthen, and then start to reintroduce them and see what happened. But she encouraged us to try wheat little by little before then.

I know the jury is still out on allergies and how to “cure” them. Some say a little consistent exposure is the key to eliminating them, while others argue that every little exposure makes a possible reaction worse. Given that his sensitivities are skin-related, though, and not anaphylactic, we were game to try.

  • So a few weeks ago Benjamin was eating pretzels and Owen asked for one. We gave it to him. A few days passed and nothing happened.
  • Then we were at a friend’s house and she had made banana bread and Owen wanted to try. We let him have a little piece. Again, a few days went by and his face didn’t erupt in red splotches like in the past.
  • The other day I gave him an entire piece of homemade pumpkin bread, made with whole wheat flour. A few tiny bumps appeared on his jawline, but they weren’t red or itchy or scaly or dry. Owen was not bothered. In fact, he was in love. He begged and begged for more “beh” (bread).

We haven’t tried oats yet, since that actually showed up as an “allergy” (though slight) in his bloodwork last year. I’m slightly afraid to jinx us, but… yay! I think the wheat sensitivity may be a thing of the past! We have Owen’s 18 month well visit on Monday and we’re going to discuss it with his doctor, but I’m optimistic.

Buh bye, gluten free everything. Maybe Owen will finally like pasta now (strangely it’s one of the only foods he absolutely will not eat… but perhaps it’s the gluten free pasta he hates).

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6 responses to “She Says… Passing the Test

  1. We did the same gradual introduction of cow dairy for Faith and now it’s her favorite food group. :)

    People ALWAYS ask me if they can give Faith a treat when we’re out. I’m like “Well she can see it and she does understand English, so just freaking give it to her before she has a melt down”. She doesn’t have any allergies, but if it’s close to a meal time, I don’t love the idea of her conning free cookies out of the bakery ladies at the grocery store, but there are worse things. Like me not getting a free cookie.

  2. I’m so heartened to hear that Owen is overcoming some of his sensitivities! i’ve been nervous about our own daughter at 19 months – bananas. who on earth is allergic to bananas?! – and our recent experiments showed that she’s still got it. This gives me hope! That said, gluten is nothing like bananas. How wonderful that he might be able to charge through life w/o that worry.

  3. Hey! Do you mind doing a post in the future about what Owen does eat? I’m just looking for ideas since we’re combatting all of the same things right now with our 10 month old. In fact, our stories are identical starting back with breastfeeding. Unfortunately one difference is that our little guy is also sensitive to milk products. Lately I’ve started wondering about going gluten free with him too since we’re battling awful eczema and I haven’t been able to pinpoint the case. I would LOVE some help! Oh, and did you have to wait until Owen was a year to do allergy testing? So far that’s what we’ve been told by our doctor, 2 more months to go! It can be so frustrating with flare up after flare up of red itchy skin :(

  4. @Kara, I hear you. I’ll take that free cookie, thankyouverymuch!

    @Meridith, Yuck, sorry you are dealing with food issues too. Bananas seem easier to avoid than gluten, but no one would ever think to ask if you were allergic to bananas — how random! Hope your daughter grows out of her allergy as well.

    @Katie, Certainly! I’ll send you an email about this.

  5. I’ll be curious to hear how he does. We’ve restricted Henry’s intake of nuts for the past year. He was doing okay until he ate something (we think it was cashews, part of the tree nut family) and he broke out in horrible hives for a week. Finally, after a visit to the ER, we were told to keep him away from all nuts “just in case” until at least two years old. He turns two in a few weeks so we’re going to start gradually introducing them back into his diet. Fingers crossed!

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