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FAQ: How Did We Learn of Joseph’s Allergies?

December 7, 2011

Q: How did you find out that Joseph is allergic to dairy, gluten, and soy?

A: The short answer is, we tried it, and he reacted. I know this is a bit repetitive from other places on my blog, but I thought it would be good to put this information in one place for people who I’ve met after figuring this all out. So, for those who would like the full history, here it is:

When Joseph was 3 months old, he had severe eczema (see a history of his eczema with pictures). Some of my friends suggested the eczema could be due to food allergies (at the time, I was exclusively breastfeeding). So, I asked the doctor about eliminating foods in my diet. He said if I wanted to do that, to try wheat first. I eliminated it, and his eczema cleared up. Then I found that if I cheated on my diet, 24 hours later, the eczema came back. When I later tried giving him barley cereal for babies (this is after I’d weaned him to a hypoallergenic formula), he turned into the crankiest baby, and all the symptoms of me eating wheat came back. This told me that it was gluten, and not just wheat that he reacted to (for more details see my Gluten Allergy Self Diagnosis post).

When Joseph was 6 months old, I gave him his first bottle of cow’s milk formula. After minutes of persuasion, he’d drunk about an ounce, and I noticed that his face was starting to swell up with huge hives. Thankfully, he never showed signs of having trouble breathing, though I was scared for that. Since then, he’s gotten red itchy eyes after eating just crumbs of something baked with milk in it, and breaks out in hives just by touching milk.

When the cow’s milk formula didn’t work, I gave Joseph soy formula. He got diarrhea, and his eczema came back. Later, he reacted to the soy in his birthday cake. Soy milk after that brought back the same symptoms.

I also tried giving Joseph almond milk soon after he turned one. He got the same reaction to that as he did to soy milk. I also tried giving him peanut butter, and he was cranky and ended up with a HORRIBLE diaper rash. Due to the high rate of anaphylaxis to these allergens, I’ve avoided any further experiments with peanuts and tree nuts.

Eggs is an interesting thing. He eats baked goods with eggs just fine (his first exposure was Glutino crackers). But when I’ve given him scrambled eggs in the months after he turned one, he got a few spots on his chin, like small hives. Since then, he’s steadfastly refused any experiments with eggs on their own.

So there you have our history with 6 of the 8 top allergens. The two we haven’t tried are fish and shellfish, and as you can imagine, I am willing to procrastinate those experiments. Sometime in the future, I’ll take him in for formal testing, mostly so we have it in his medical record.

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