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The Food Allergy Epidemic And How We Can Avoid It: My Personal Story

Updated on March 29, 2013

My Son Walter

Do you ever wonder why so many children have food allergies?

When I was growing up in the 70's, I don't recall one child who had a food allergy. There are approximately 15 million people in the U.S. who have food allergies, 8% of them under the age of 18.

These numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

Food allergies range from a stuffy nose to life threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden potentially fatal reaction that constricts the airways.

I am not a doctor or a research scientist but I am specially interested in this topic. Since he was a baby, my eldest son Walter (just married at 21) has had life-threatening allergies to peanuts, raw egg whites, and mustard seed.

I have dug deep into the research on food allergies and I have come up with some strong evidence. I will divulge one surprising theory of what causes food allergies in this post and present a different hypothesis in a subsequent post. There are many ideas about what causes food allergies. The fact is, all of them may contribute in their own way. More than one factor may be at work in any individual.

To explain how I reached my conclusions about allergies, I will tell you about the birth of my son, Walter. I will take you through his first year of life and highlight what I believe caused his food allergies.

Source

Waiting for Walter

True to his laid-back, just can't be bothered personality, Walter was born two weeks past his due date. In vitro, Walter was comfortable, happy, warm and well fed. He didn't know about video games or television yet, so he felt no need to leave his snug little home.

I, on the other hand, was huge and uncomfortable. To encourage the start of labor, I tried everything I could think of short of jumping on a trampoline: eating spicy foods, driving fast over speed bumps, taking long walks, sipping herbal teas rumored to induce labor---none of those did the trick.

I was ready. I had taken my Lamaze class and knew all about the different breathing techniques. I had my soothing music to play, my coach's snack (a bag of trail mix---God forbid he should go hungry) and, very important, my pretty pink nursing nightgown with matching bathrobe.

Walter Makes His Appearance

Finally the day arrived and I was having contractions. Not Braxton Hicks contractions but authentic, grit your teeth contractions. My husband and I grabbed our overnight bag and went to the hospital.

out on a limb with no help in sight.

Source

Mistake Number One: Saying Yes to Pitocin

We need to talk about Pitocin because use of Pitocin often leads to Cesarean sections. Cesarean sections often lead to food allergies (as well as asthma, eczema, diabetes and obesity, as we will see).

As it turned out, my contractions proved to be ineffective at producing cervical dilation. Instead of being sent home to wait, which I believe now was the right thing to do, I was given Pitocin to induce stronger contractions.

Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin. Too bad the synthetic form of oxytocin doesn't have that feel good, calming effect that oxytocin produced by our bodies does---far from it.

The attending doctor assured me Pitocin was the right thing to do. I said yes to Pitocin.

What I Didn't Know Then

Pitocin increases the pressure of contractions. Contractions will be longer and stronger with a very short rest period. The increased pressure of the contractions compresses the baby's umbilical cord. With every contraction the baby's oxygen supply is squeezed off. Lack of oxygen causes distress in the baby. The baby's heartbeat rate may drop, which may cause serious complications (such as neurological damage or even death).

Even though the attending physician didn't tell me any of this, she certainly knew the implications. The baby was monitored closely from that point on.

Important information to remember: An emergency C-section is the usual outcome of Pitocin induced births.

I realize that using Pitocin sometimes cannot be avoided. My purpose is to make you aware of the risks of certain procedures so you can make informed choices. It's important that women know they don't have to agree with their doctor. Women have the final say.

A Swedish study showed a nearly 3 times greater risk of asphyxia (oxygen deprivation) for babies born after augmentation with Pitocin.

A study in Nepal showed that induced babies were 5 times more likely to have signs of brain damage at birth.

In my own situation, I now believe I should have been sent home to wait rather than taking the Pitocin. Obedience to authority, however, had been ground into me by years of Catholic schooling. I hadn't yet arrived at the principle that women don't always have to agree with their doctor.

Obedient or not, the thought of having the baby sooner rather than later made the Pitocin option look like the right one.

A Typical Scenario

Too often, Pitocin is administered, the baby goes into distress and an emergency C-section is performed. Later, the doctor is congratulated for saving the baby's life.

Cesarean sections are at least twice as high in labor induced births (induced by Pitocin), as a Canadian studies shows.

Source

You Might Like To Know: Pitocin Hurts Like A Mother

Your Pitocin induced contractions will be longer and stronger with shortened rest periods. From your point of view, this makes a big difference.

Funny, but I thought I would sail through labor. I suppose you can say that I did, only this sailor sailed through a storm, a fierce one. No sooner did one wave pass then another came crashing down on me, with no let-up.

"Drugs! Drugs! Give me some goddamn drugs!" I shouted.

All of my Lamaze training did nothing to prepare me for what I endured. I didn't care about soothing music, massages, walking, body positioning, not even the focused breathing techniques I had practiced so diligently. As for my pretty pink nursing nightgown with matching bathrobe---forget about it.

Finally, they gave me some drugs.

No Turning Back

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Mistake Number Two: Epidural Anesthesia

Thanks to Pitocin, my epidural was inevitable.

An epidural anesthesia is the most common form of pain anesthesia during labor. The epidural painkiller is derived from cocaine and it is injected directly into the epidural space (spinal column).

Epidurals may be necessary at times, but they are best to avoid if possible. Perhaps if I hadn't had Pitocin, which made my labor pains stronger and more frequent, I might not have needed and epidural.

Epidurals can send you down a long path of medical complications. Epidurals can be harmful to you and your baby, so make sure it is absolutely necessary.

Gravity during labor is your best friend. Ambulation (walking around) is a way of promoting contractions. Epidurals, numb legs and a catheter, however, keep you lying down in bed. Also, an epidural makes it harder to birth your baby without an operation. In the concluding stage of labor you can't feel the final powerful contractions and so you don't know when to push. Forceps are more commonly used with epidural births. Forceps can deform your baby's soft head. Sometimes the head grow out of the deforming, but sometimes not.

Walking epidurals (not available when I was giving birth) enable ambulation. Walking around decreases pain, shorten's labor and increases likelihood of vaginal delivery.

Many hospitals will not let you walk when administered a walking epidural due to insurance considerations.

If you are interested in a walking epidural, talk it over with your doctor before your due date. A word of caution: it is more likely you will get a spinal headache from a "walking epidural" than a "standard epidural." I've had a spinal headache and I can tell you, only a really bad migraine could hurt worse.

Other problems with epidurals:

  1. slows down labor
  2. increases risk of perineal tear
  3. increases probability of cesarean section
  4. increases probability of inducing labor with pitocin
  5. Increases chances of using forceps
  6. increases urinary, bowel and sexual disorders
  7. increased risk of fever in the mother during labor
  1. According to this study, epidurals may decrease mother-child bonding.
  2. According to this study, epidurals may make it more difficult for you to care for your baby in the first months post-partem.

Important Facts So Far

Pitocin was administered to speed up my labor, which in turn made the pain so severe that I had to have an epidural.

You should know that the epidural doesn't work in all cases. When using an epidural with Pitocin, it may merely take the edge off. In my case, the only thing the epidural did for me was immobilize me. To quote my doctor, "The epidural is working, I can tell because your legs are floppy."

My legs were floppy, but I was still feeling excruciating pain.

Source

Long Awaited Arrival

Thirty hours later. . .

I was running a fever (caused by the epidural). Walter was in distress (caused by the pitocin) and showing an irregular heartbeat. He aspirated his own stools and, because of it, developed Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. (Studies show a connection between asthma and meconium aspiration.) Bad news.

Bring on the Cesarean section. This baby needed to be dragged into the light of day as soon as possible.

Fetal distress, Meconium Aspiration Syndrome and maternal fevers can occur with or without epidurals or Pitocin. There are plenty of Pitocin induced births that occur without the sort of problems I had. Statistics show, however, that epidurals and Pitocin increase the chance of distress and the occurrence of Cesarean section dramatically.

Thus, for me: jab, slice, pluck, snip, staple.

When I finally awoke from my drugged slumber, I was surprised to see I was, except for the attending nurse, alone.

"Where's my baby?"

At the moment of delivery, Walter had had his lungs suctioned and then was whisked off to the pre-natal intensive care unit without my getting the chance to hold him or even see him. Now that I was awake, and with the help of the nurse and a wheelchair, I was in hot-pursuit of my first glimpse of my newborn.

After what seemed like an interminable time, at last I saw the sweet face of the little boy who had put me through so much. He was hooked up to an intravenous feed, crying in distress.

This was not how I had imagined our first meeting.

I wanted to tell him how much I loved him, how he would be with Mommy very soon, how I would always protect him and never let him come to harm.

In reality, all I could manage was, "Mommy is here." I wasn't allowed to hold him, but I did stroke his little arm.

The nurse wheeled me away heartbroken.

From my hospital room I could hear Walter crying all the way down the hall.

Poor Walter. I'm sure wished he were back in his first home where he had been cozy and safe.

Walter had other challenges to face in the months ahead: deadly food allergies.

Source

What's The Link Between Food Allergies and Cesarean Section?

During natural birth, a baby passes through its mother's vaginal canal. A baby's mouth makes contact with bacteria in the vaginal canal. This is not only natural, but it is necessary to begin the colonization of the baby's otherwise sterile intestinal tract. Establishing the proper microflora in a baby's gastrointestinal (GI) tract is vitally important to the baby's ability to protect itself for harmful germs that make it past the acidic environment of its stomach. Not only do the beneficial microflora take up space on the inner lining of the intestines, thus fending off bad bacteria and hindering them from gaining a toehold to begin their own colony, but the good microflora prevent particles of food from seeping through the gut lining and entering the blood stream improperly. When macronutrients, toxins, bacteria enter the blood stream by leaking through the otherwise impermeable gut wall (a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome), it can result in an immune response that we know as allergies, asthma, possibly even autism.

(See Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's excellent Gut And Psychology Syndrome book for a full discussion of the subject.)

A special thank you to Mister Immortal who's love and support are a continuous source of inspiration. misterimmortal.com

I also recommend you read: Food Allergies Testing For Anger Management In Children

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    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Ruchi Urvashi,

      Glad to hear that, it seems a lot of doctors today induce even if there isn't a problem; don't get it. Cesearan cection is so painful during the delivery but very painful after, so there is not getting around it :o)

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      LongTimeMother,

      Thanks that's a great idea, I will do the same. Thanks for your vote appreciate it :o)

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 4 years ago from Singapore

      Very useful and informative hub. I had a natural delivery of my baby and we both are healthy today. There are no allergies and everything is well. The labor was painful but I think in long term, the benefits outweigh the pain.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      This is a brilliant hub. How wonderful to see you taking the time to explain the issues in the context of your own experience.

      I am going to link to it from my hub about Food Allergies Testing for anger management in children. Then I'm going to read more of your hubs!

      Thank you, Cathy. Voted up +

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      LauraGT

      Thanks for your comment, I'm so glad you like my hub.

      There are so many things in the world of health right now that people need to be informed about. I am anxious to get as much information I can out there to empower women and men alike.

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

      Interesting. I'd never heard about the relationship between pitocin and allergies. Yet another reason for women to inform themselves about medical intervention before they go in to labor to make informed decisions. Great hub!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

      I heard the same thing as mentioned in the article -- that babies passing through the birth canal will have much better gut flora than those done with C-Section.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      ktrapp,

      Here is part two, part three is coming shortly!

      https://hubpages.com/health/Whats-Behind-The-Food-...

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      ktrapp,

      Thank you for such a wonderful comment. It is so encouraging to me that people are reading my hub.

      Parent's decisions concerning their baby's birthing process and first few weeks of life may determine whether their child develops deadly food allergies such as peanut.

      It is my hope that people share this information to empower parents and help future babies avoid this affliction.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

      Cathy - I've also wondered why allergies to foods like peanuts exist today that I don't recall at all from my childhood. As I'm sure you know, now schools have separate classrooms for kids with peanut allergies. In my day every kid probably brought peanut butter and jelly with them for school lunch. This is really interesting information you presented. I'm sort of on the edge of my seat waiting for part 2.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Jennifer,

      Thanks you so much. I am so please you like this post. I have more to say on the subject and working hard to get out this information. I aim to please :o)

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      tmouse,

      Thank you for your comment. I am hoping to help expectant moms and families by spreading the word to everyone that has loved ones and friends in the process of starting a family.

    • Jennifer Mandel profile image

      Jennifer Mandel 4 years ago from Bridgewater, New Jersey

      Thanks so much for such an awesome post. This is great information and people need to pass it on and spread the word.

      I am looking forward to your future post on this subject and finding out more.

      Thanks, Ms. Immortal

    • profile image

      tmouse1 4 years ago

      Cathy, this is a wonderful hub! I'm sure the expectant moms who read it will appreciate the information.

      Great work!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Eddy,

      Thanks for commenting!

      Unfrotunately, I have some more mistakes in this area, that I hope will help others.

      Stay tuned :o)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      You have created a hub from your own bad experience and have used it to help others. Brilliant work here and I vote up.

      Eddy.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      aemillervb,

      This is great, I'm excited for you. You are giving your baby a great start in life.

      Let me know how things go for you, stay in touch.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      HealthGuru1248,

      Thank you for you comment.

      I am glad you feel it is as important as I do to get this life changing information out there.

      It is my goal to easily make available the right information for people so they can make informed decisions about their nutrition and health.

    • aemillervb profile image

      aemillervb 4 years ago from Virginia

      I am going to read the link you posted a bit later. I am really interested to read more! I can't wait to see what else there is to learn :)

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      ,juicingforhealth

      Thanks for your comment.

      Looking at your numbers it seems autism is an epidemic as well.

      I have read up on the subject of mercury and autism. A good book on this topic is, Mercury Poisoning It's Not In Our Heads Anymore. Mercury is just one of the many problems with vaccines. I for one have stopped vaccinating my children many years ago.

      Also, autism and other phsycological disorders, like A.D.H.D, dyslexia and depression are linked to c-sections and not having enough healthy gut flora.

      The book I have on sale is an excellent source of information on this the subject.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Thank you for the awesome compliment.

      C- section is just scratching the surface of food allergies. More to come.

    • HealthGuru1248 profile image

      HealthGuru1248 4 years ago

      Thank you for writing such a fantastic article on this important topic. Many times preventing chronic illness starts in the womb. The more people aware of this the better!

    • juicingforhealth profile image

      juicingforhealth 4 years ago from Spain

      Cathy

      It's not just food allergies that seem to be on the rise. Autism is too. There use to be 1 in 10,000 with autism, but I heard recently that number is up to 1 in 100 now. What happens when it's 1 in 10.

      It's thought by some that the increase in autism is down to mercury in fillings and did you know they put mercury in vaccinations as well as a preservative? There are reports that suggest mothers with mercury fillings who have a baby who is then vaccinated with one of these mercury containing vaccines, is more likely to end up with autism.

      You can find out more about this on the Dr. Mercola site.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Cathy, I have studied this extensively and you have shed new light on this subject. Excellent and well written, I am going back to the drawing board! I never thought about pitocin or the epidural and you have done some excellent work here! Voted up and awesome!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      aemillervb,

      Thanks for your comment and voting up, I really appreciate it.

      I would like to congratulate you on the birth of your first baby!

      I hope you are feeling well and have plenty of help. It takes a while to get over a cesarean section, at least it did for me.

      Since your child was born by c-section, I would like to give you some advice. If you are nursing don't stop for at least a year, go longer if you can. If you are getting negative remarks from well intentioned family and friends, there is always a support group which your probably know about; La Leche League. If you are vaccinating, stop. I will go further in dep in a subsequent post, you will most likely be surprised at what I have uncovered.

      Because 80% of the immune system is located in the gut, it's important to start giving your baby benefecial probiotics as soon as possible to produce healthy bacteria. You can give your baby a little juice from organic cultured vegetables like sauerkraut. Make some home made kefir as well. Here is a great website with information you need: http://bodyecology.com/articles/introduce_babies_p...

      Of course, I'm not a doctor and you make the ultimate decisions. I urge you to take advantage of my experiences and research, though.

      Good luck to you and your baby. If you have any questions, I am here for you. Please do not hesitate to ask.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Thanks Laurie, I always appreciate your comments and I'm glad you find this post informative. If I could help even one other person from making these mistakes I will be happy.

      I remember taking that picture of Walter like it was yesterday. It's still one of my favorites.

      xoxo

    • aemillervb profile image

      aemillervb 4 years ago from Virginia

      Wow! I am a first time mom with an 8 week old infant. I was admitted to the hospital the night before I was to give birth. They induced me with pitocen and contractions were a bear! For about 8 hours the nurses were continuously in and out of the room. My little guy was having trouble breathing.. Finally at 845am they had to do an emergency c-section. Scary thought that he may have food allergies. I had no idea! Thanks for the informative Hub!

      Voting up :)

    • profile image

      Laurie 4 years ago

      Wow, Cathy, your story took my breath away. It's been so long since I gave birth that I had forgotten so many details. I have to say that photo of Walter at the top is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Congrats on a great column with very helpful information to expectant mothers!

      xoxox

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      billybuc,

      It is great to hear from you and thank you so much for the compliment.

      This information may not concern you directly, but if you have anyone you love that may be giving birth in the future, this is important information to pass on.

      Knowing this may have changed my son's and my life.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very important information. Serious stuff here, but your pictures were hilarious.

      Obviously, this really doesn't apply to me in any way, but I wanted to show you some support and tell you nice job on writing this.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      shiningirisheyes,

      Thanks for you comment and voting my post up. It is very appreciated.

      Is your iodine allergy related to seafood?

      My little bundle of joy is 21 now :o) He will always be my baby though.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Wow - I had no idea these measures they so often take can cause so many harmful side affects, as well as being rather ineffective and dangerous. This could very well shed light on my deadly allergy to iodine.

      Extremely informative and I am so sorry for your experience. Although I am happy for your little bundle of joy.

      Voting up