My Daughter Outgrew her Peanut Allergy!
Today My Daughter Ate Peanut Butter!
For most families, a child eating peanut butter seems a strange reason to get excited
And, yet, we are thrilled. See, our daughter is six years old and has never had peanuts. She developed a nut allergy at only a month or so of age. We figured it out when she was only a couple months old and had it confirmed when she turned one. We were fortunate to find an allergist when our daughter was just one year old who gave us the best advice. Just over six years later, our daughter has outgrown her allergy.
Today, she ate her first bite of peanut butter.
My Daughter's Allergy History
Before I begin my story, let me just say I love my daughter dearly but I'll tell you truthfully, she was a fussy little thing from the get go. We joke that she screamed from the moment of birth and didn't stop for four months. Really, that isn't that far from the truth.
Our Story Begins at Only One Month of Age
My daughter had been born during the summer and I was finishing up my Masters when she was born. As a result, I had both my newborn daughter and my four-year-old son with me as I finished up my research outdoors during the summer when it was fairly warm. I kept her out of the sun and kept her cool but it wasn't much of a surprise when at a month her pediatrician diagnosed her rash as a heat rash. I kept her indoors and kept her cool but her rash kept spreading and spreading. She was miserable.
Two Months of Age
My poor daughter is still battling her rash. Her pediatrician still believed it would fade. Fortunately, I was taking a trip to the rather cool Bay Area and we were certain her rash would disappear. Despite much cooler weather and fog, her rash was still spreading! Finally, we looked outside and we looked back at her and knew this was not a heat rash. I was visiting my mother and we started discussing what this might be if not a heat rash. As we were discussing the various possibilities, my mother and I both, at the same time, looked at the container of nuts I had been munching on during our conversation. We wondered if nuts could be the problem? I had been craving nuts since her birth and had been eating peanuts, pistachios and other varieties daily. I was breastfeeding and we'd both heard of nut allergies. Okay, no problem, I cut out the nuts. By the next morning, my daughter's rash was completely gone. She was still miserable but at least the rash was gone.
The Next Couple Months
At the next pediatrician's visit, I shared my story with him. He agreed that this sounded like a nut allergy but he didn't recommend official testing until she was a year. We also agreed because she was still so miserable all the time, she probably had other food allergies as well. I spent the next month and a half changing my diet but nothing seemed to work. She cried a lot. No actually, she screamed a lot. She really was miserable. Finally, at about four months, her pediatrician and my OB both agreed that I should give up the breastfeeding. They didn't say this lightly because they both felt breastfeeding was best but, in our case, my daughter and I were struggling greatly and despite all the changes including advice from La Leche, nothing was helping.
Switching at Four Months to Formula
I can honestly say that when my little girl had her first bottle of formula, I got her first genuine smile. She loved it. Whereas she had fought breastfeeding for four months, she downed her bottles. I won't say she became instantly a happy baby but much of her screaming disappeared and she was quite a bit more content.
Food allergies affect about 6% of children under the age of three— American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
Testing at the Age of One
Our pediatrician told us that they don't usually test for allergies until children reach the age at one. He gave them the name of a pediatric allergist and told us to schedule that appointment around her birthday. And, so, shortly after our daughter's birthday she had her first official allergy test. The did the skin test. She turned up positive for peanuts, nuts (they never specified the type and I didn't ask), pears and eggs. By this time, she'd already visited the ER due to pear juice so that was no surprise. The egg allergy however was a surprise. She'd had scrambled eggs a few times by this time. She never ate much of them though and didn't like eggs.
Our allergist said that it was pretty rare to outgrow a peanut allergy but, if we kept our daughter away from all nuts and had her retested when she turned four, she stood a better chance than many children simply because we caught this so early.
The Next Three Years
For the next three years, we kept our daughter away from all nuts and pears. She had had baking with eggs in them (i.e. cakes, cookies, etc...) so we didn't stress it when she had baked goods. We just kept her away from things like omelets and scrambled eggs and she was content with that. Her pediatrician did avoid any shots that were developed in eggs (i.e. flu, MMR, etc...). We grew adept at reading food labels. We did find we had to be ultra-vigilant when our daughter was elsewhere. Her two different preschools were not the problem. They were terrific and I had no worries when she was at school. When we were with family, however, we had concerns. We had an episode when she was only two where two family members brought over a box of chocolate-covered nuts to a family holiday celebration. They place them on the low coffee table with the other hors d'oeuvres. I very kindly put them on a higher table nearby because my daughter was happily grazing and her eyes sort of glazed over happily when she spotted the chocolate. Those two family members were not very kind and made some comments about how if we properly disciplined her, she wouldn't touch the chocolate. That wasn't the issue. It just seemed mean to do to her. Anyhow, we have a number of stories like that and I know we're not alone when it comes to extended family and allergies. We just had to really watch her around family. They'd never seen a reaction and, so, in some of their minds, it was not a big deal.
Our Next Testing When She Turned Four
And, so at four, we scheduled her next allergy testing. We were very excited. We had monitored her closely and kept her away from all nuts. In fact, we even told her, if she was given the all clear, we'd have a peanut party and make cookies. We had moved to another State and, so, we had a new allergist. We explained her history. He begin with a RAST test. The blood test results took awhile. The office finally called and scheduled a new appointment. At that appointment, we were told she showed no reaction to nuts or eggs. We were overjoyed and thrilled. The allergist said our next step would be the skin test. Okay, they put a number of little pin pricks with various allergens on her back. No, she wasn't thrilled but we excitedly waited. Eventually the allergist came back in and said, "Good news, you have the all clear for eggs." Yay! However, when he said that that huge red blotch on her back was peanuts, we were let down greatly. He said he'd test out the eggs in office but with that large blotch on her back, she was still allergic. He also said that the RAST test does miss a lot of allergies and it missed her peanut allergy. We were told to avoid all nuts and try again in two years. We came back days later so they could feed my daughter eggs over the span of hours in their office. She was free of her egg allergy. Ironically, she still does not like eggs. We also decided to get her caught up on her vaccines for Kindergarten and, unfortunately, she does get very ill with any shot created in eggs. So, no more flu shots for her.
"More than 3 million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both"
~ American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
Research has changed the thought that only 20% of people outgrow their peanut allergy to the chance that 50% may lose their sensitivity later in life.— American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
After our let down more than four years ago, we still held onto hope and faith that our daughter would outgrow this allergy. Nobody else was quite as hopeful at this point. As a result, she turned six and we didn't think much about having her tested. Almost half a year later, I thought what can it hurt, let's do this again. Again, we're in yet another State (military family), and I find an allergist in our area. The allergist is wonderful but, like most, gives us the spiel about how this allergy really is a lifelong one and it is rare to outgrow it. She didn't want my daughter or I getting our hopes up and you could tell, she fully expected this allergy to still be there based on the history. She didn't even want to do the RAST testing. She didn't trust it as much as the skin tests.
And, so my daughter laid on the table again while they pricked her back with allergens from numerous nuts, pears, eggs again, and a few other possible allergens. She did about 18 or so pinpricks on my daughter's back. By about the eighth, my daughter had had it and was in tears but they quickly finished. We waited for awhile and the allergist returned. My daughter still wasn't allergic to eggs but the allergist agreed, avoid vaccines grown in eggs simply because of my daughter's history with them. She was no longer allergic to pears (the last allergist had not tested that out). And, great news, MY DAUGHTER SHOWED NO REACTION TO NUTS...ANY OF THE NUTS.
To say we were overjoyed is an understatement. I sat in the parking lot for the next half hour calling so many people to let them know. We were all overjoyed.
Based on the allergist's recommendation, she said to introduce a new type of nut each week and just keep an eye on her to be certain. So each week, we choose a dessert with nuts and my daughter gets to enjoy her allergy testing all week. She's enjoyed brownies with walnuts, walnut ice cream, butter pecan ice cream, cinnibons with pecans, pistachio ice cream (not a favorite of hers) and oh so much more.
Today My Daughter Had Peanut Butter!
Maybe because I am so thrilled, I felt I had to write this page. My daughter has spent her life envious of all the children enjoying peanut butter sandwiches. She questions people thoroughly on how they taste and whether they are really yummy. She's always felt a little left out. She enjoys eating and just wants to experience it all. So, with joy and A LOT of trepidation, my daughter had about an eighth of a teaspoon of peanut butter today. Several hours later, there is still no reaction. Now, I know from the past that often it is the second time when a reaction occurs so tomorrow we'll give her a teaspoon of peanut butter and watch her but we just have so much hope now that she TRULY is over her allergy.
One year later, I am happy to report a peanut-allergy free little girl. We try to give her something with peanuts every couple of weeks so the allergy does not redevelop. The interesting thing is that she does not like peanuts at all so, generally, we give her a peanut butter cup or cookie with peanut butter. She also outgrew her egg and pear allergy and dislikes both those foods as well. We are just relieved that she is now allergy free. The relief we now feel knowing we do not have to closely read every food label is enormous.
Do you or a family member have an allergy to peanuts?
Links Of Interest
- Peanuts may no longer cause allergies | Health News | Health Research | Diet & Weight Loss Tips
Get health news & research updates on beauty, body fitness, Sexual health, weight loss. Get to know all news on AIDS, Cancer, Addiction, Allergies, Anti-ageing, Backache & more news on health.
- Children may outgrow peanut allergies, study shows
A study at John Hopkins University shows that outgrowing a peanut allergy is possible.
- The Online Peanut Allergy Resource
A very nice site with information about the allergy, recipes and even a forum for support.
- Immunotherapy may reduce peanut allergy
"The British and American trials have shown that gradual and steady exposure to the peanut allergen can reduce or, in some cases, eliminate reactions altogether. Researchers aren’t calling it a cure, but it could be a big step in the right direction
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Do you have a child struggling with nut allergies? Are you hopeful they may outgrow it? Leave me a note. I'd love to hear from you.