Lately, there seems to be a shift in thinking about food allergies and when to introduce certain foods into a child's diet. My daughter is five and when she was two the common advice that was handed out was that children should wait until age two before trying any kind of nut. Now research is indicating that EARLY introduction might be the best way to avoid food allergies.
We were also encouraged to breastfeed our daughter, because that is supposed to help minimize allergies. I breastfed Ella for a year. I did let her drink formula from time to time after about 10 months, just in case I was killed in a freak accident and unable to feed her. As it turned out, I had to have an emergency appendectomy and spent an entire week in the hospital. It was one week before her first birthday. Because of all of the drugs in my system, I had to force wean her. (It was a nightmare for me, and she barely seemed to notice). Thank God for the formula!
From six months on, her diet was heavy on wheat. Pasta, bagels, bread, crackers... the typical American diet!We gave her soy around that time, as well. We let her have eggs some time in that period and she hated them. Through it all, she had eczema on her the insides of her arms and behind her knees. I just thought she had dry skin.
Since we were trying to do everything by the book, we waited until her second birthday to let her sample nuts. We started with peanut butter. She didn't want any part of it. When she did put some in her mouth, there was no reaction. It seemed like a good sign. Then we let her have pesto or something with pine nuts, again no reaction other than her refusing to eat it. The turning point in our lives happened when we let her have a pistachio. It is a story that I have told a thousand times and it never gets easier to remember that day. She put a fraction of the nut into her mouth. She spit it out; screamed as if it were a burning jalapeno. Within seconds, she had hives all over her lips. Within a few minutes, her eyes were swollen shut. And then she started started having trouble breathing; it was textbook anaphylaxis. I was pregnant with my son at the time. And the hormones + the stress of the situation, kicked in. I drove her, like a maniac, to the ER. As soon as we got there, they ushered us in. She was given an IV and they administered antihistamines, epinephrine, and steroids. We remained there for several hours as we waited for the swelling to go down.
Two weeks later, we had her blood allergy tested for dozens of foods. We were shocked when we got the results... wheat, eggs, soy, all tree nuts, peanuts and sesame. She was highly allergic to all of these things. I cannot say why she did not react to the peanut butter or the pine nuts. But she clearly had been having some difficulty with the other things, as evidenced by her horrible skin rashes.
I am a bit baffled about this new research, from a personal stand point. We do not have a history of food allergies in our family. She had wheat as soon as she was able to eat (early introduction) and she is allergic to it. And we waited on the nuts (later introduction) and she is allergic to them. I am very curious about what the experiences of my readers were. You may want to also check out this article from Med India...
(Talk about an annoying title!)
Did you breastfeed/were you breastfed? When were the allergic foods first introduced? If you have a moment, I would love to hear your story. Either in the comments section or on my Facebook page...