I’m pleased to introduce to you my friend that I met in high school, Trista Swinson of Let’s Eat Safe. We were both proud band geeks as we were part of our high school’s marching band as well as other bands at school. Now, she is a wife and a mother to two beautiful children. I invited her to write a post on food allergies since both of her children have severe food allergies and her experience has taught me so much. While many people might think that people with severe food allergies are limited, I see a mom who goes above and beyond to provide safe yet delicious experiences for her family.
Trista shares a wealth of information on food allergies in children so we will feature her post in two parts. Part 1 addresses many misconceptions and states various facts while Part 2 delves deeper into her family’s personal experience and include a delicious recipe that everybody can enjoy.
According to the CDC, 1 in 13 children in the US suffer from 1 or more food allergies.
That’s an average of 2 children in every classroom across America.
Chances are, you know someone who is impacted by a food allergy.
Common MYTHS about food allergies:
- You can only die from a peanut allergy.
- (FALSE) Milk and Eggs are actually the two most common life threatening allergies in children. However, all food allergies are serious no matter how common or rare.
- They will be fine as long as they don’t eat a lot of it. One or two bites are fine.
- (FALSE) Even trace amounts from cross contact are enough to cause a life threatening allergic reaction.
- Children will outgrow a food allergy when they get older.
- (FALSE) While SOMETIMES true, this is not always the case. You can also develop a food allergy at any stage of life, even if you have safely ingested the food before.
- A baby cannot react to a food through their mother’s breastmilk.
- (FALSE) While it is rare, it is possible to react to a food through breastmilk. Rarely is the reaction anaphylactic but hives, vomiting, diarrhea or blood and mucus in the stools are all signs of a food allergy. Please consult your pediatrician immediately if these symptoms are present.
I am a mother to two children with severe food allergies. In our case, my children began to react to food through my breastmilk. Projectile vomiting, small hives that would appear after nursing, eczema, blood and mucus in their stool were many of our symptoms that started our allergy journey. Through trial and error I was able to identify foods that were resulting in reactions. However, with my son it wasn’t until he was 18 months old where we were able to see an allergist and get formal testing after several by mouth reactions as we were introducing solid foods.
Foods that my children are allergic to include: Milk, Egg, Wheat, Peanut, Treenuts, Fish, Shellfish, Sesame, Peach, Cherry, Strawberry, Banana, Avocado, Oat, Barley, Rye, Brewers Yeast, and we also avoid other stone fruits and latex related foods such as Apricots or Kiwi.
Food intolerances and food allergies are vastly different. Unlike food intolerances, food allergies are “IgE- mediated.” This means that your immune system produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (aka IgE) when it detects a food allergen. IgE antibodies fight the suspect food by releasing histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals then trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Food intolerances do not involve the immune system. While food intolerances can cause extreme discomfort, they are not life-threatening. A food allergy, can be fatal.
How are allergies diagnosed?
There are two common ways to test for food allergies. The first is through blood testing. These results are only 50% accurate though. Another way is a skin test. Allergists take a small amount of the suspected allergen and pierce the skin. Hives will develop when your body begins to react to the suspected allergen. This test is 75% accurate. Skin testing has been known to provide false positives as well as false negative results. The only 100% way to know if an allergy exists is after a by mouth reaction. Many allergists will perform a “food challenge” in office to do just that. During food challenges small doses of the suspected food are given in a monitored setting over a set amount of time to see if a reaction occurs. Once a reaction is seen, the challenge is over and a diagnosis is given. To continue reading Part 2 click here.