Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. As a mom of three children, these are the things I've gleaned as I've compared my allergic children to my non-allergic child. As always, please consult your real MD with any questions.
Three years ago, I found out beyond a shadow of a doubt that my 1 year old had life-threatening food allergies. In the years since then, years marked by Epipen prescriptions, allergy tests, and more allergic discoveries, we have learned a lot about how to manage food allergies. But in retrospect, I should have suspected food allergies long before the positive diagnosis. Here are the warning signs that I missed.
Are you familiar with the atopic triad? Eczema, asthma, and allergies make up the three elements of the atopic triad, and if one parent has an element of the triad, then a child has a 50% chance of inheriting it as well.
What does that mean for our family?
My dad has all 3 elements: eczema, asthma, and allergies. My siblings all have various parts of the triad, though I only have eczema.
I have 3 children. All three have mild eczema. One child has allergies and asthma while another has food allergies. The odds were not in our favor for escaping without an atopic condition.
2. Skin breakouts
Pretty quickly after birth, my son developed baby acne. We didn't think much of it at the time, but as he grew older, his sweet little sensitive skin showed more and more signs of sensitivity. As soon as he was able to sit, he wanted to sit anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately, every rug or carpet he sat on gave him hives or a rash, so I began bringing blankets with us everywhere we went so that he could sit on fabric that wouldn't irritate his skin.
I also remember my brother putting his baseball cap on my baby. He was being a silly uncle and the baby enjoyed it. As soon as we took the cap off his head, my baby had red bumps (hives) everywhere the cap touched. This isn't normal.
3. Strange food reactions
I followed the typical pattern of introducing food to my babies, but my allergic child always had interesting reactions. I would hear him crying during nap time, only to discover he was covered in yogurt vomit or banana vomit. Normal foods would give him red bumps on his face (hives). I think I was in denial because these things did not concern me. They should have.
What would I do differently?
If you're seeing any of these warning signs, I wouldn't necessarily freak out or call the allergist just yet. But I would keep an eye on things. Now that I know some of the warning signs, here's what I do with new babies.
Detox the laundry routine. Dryer balls, dye-free & fragrance-free cleaners. You know the drill! There is no risk in switching to safer cleaners, but there are many problems from not switching soon enough.
Clean up the cleaners. Again, dye-free & fragrance-free cleaners are the way to go. When I was pregnant with my first baby, a friend gave us greener cleaners as a baby gift. How creative is that??
Follow your pediatrician's recommendations on introducing new foods. Most recommend following the 3 day wait rule. Our doctor suggested waiting a week between new foods.
Our conservative approach means we now introduce one new food per week. We only introduce food first thing in the morning so we can avoid the nasty naptime vomit scenario if an allergy does occur. And since we introduce food first thing on Monday morning, we know we can get in to see our pediatrician should a reaction occur.
Is this a hassle? Absolutely. But for us, it's worth it since we now have a history of eczema, asthma, food allergies, and seasonal allergies.
What precautions do you take with allergies? What advice do you have to share with us?