Momming in the Day of Rampant Food Allergies-Whether Your Kid Has One or Not

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I always felt like I dodged a bullet with my boys’ allergies. I found out about each of their allergies when they were nine months old. My older son developed a rash around his mouth after eating yogurt. I took some pictures, showed them to the pediatrician and followed up with a skin and blood test confirming my suspicions he was allergic to dairy and eggs. He could have both baked in foods and grew out his allergy when he was two. During that time I learned a lot about how to navigate life with a food allergy but I also never felt like his reactions were bad enough to feel scared. 

When my youngest was nine months old I scrapped the peanut butter off a cracker and gave it to him. He ate the cracker and a rash appeared around his mouth. Even though his reaction was mild, I took him to the allergist and confirmed he had a peanut allergy. Simple. We could avoid peanuts. At two, I took him back to the allergist for blood work. It showed a mild allergy and we were offered a food challenge to see if he could tolerate eating peanuts. I politely declined until he was a bit older and went about our lives avoiding peanuts for our little guy. 
 
At two and a half we felt like he was ready. He is very verbal and kept inquiring about eating peanuts when he turns four. I also truly believed he was not really allergic and we were avoiding a food that he could have. We arrived at the doctor’s office with our peanut butter cup and a lot of excitement. The appointment began as expected with him taking a bite and waiting twenty minutes. No reaction. He ate another bite. Another twenty minutes. Still no reaction. My excitement was building. An hour after his first bite he was given about a half a peanut butter cup. He loved it and eagerly ate it up. His first bites of peanut butter in his life and he was not disappointed. 
 
Just a few minutes later, things changed. First, he told me his belly hurt and his face flushed and ear reddened. The doctor immediately gave him an antihistamine and the food challenge was stopped. He told me he might have to use an Epi pen. The doctor checked him and heard wheezing. An Epi pen was administered. Within moments he was happy and talking and eating a sucker. Then everything changed. He became covered in hives, started sneezing, swelling and itching and then passed out in my arms. A second Epi pen was administered and an ambulance was called. After observation at the hospital we were sent home with the new knowledge that our son had a life threatening allergy. 
 
                           
 
I really struggled with the knowledge that we had inadverntantly been putting our son in danger. What we thought was a mild sensitivity, was a full-blown life threatening allergy. I feel quite fortunate to have found this out at the doctor’s office, but I also feel incredible guilty that I had put him in such danger before I knew. 
 
Moms of Kids with Allergies
*Take every known allergy seriously despite how severe you believe it to be. 
*Have two Epi pens with your child wherever they go, and make sure someone is prepared to act in case of an emergency. 
*Educate any one caring for your child. 
*Discuss with your child about how to protect themself. 
*Advocate for your child. 
*Connect with others in your shoes. 
(Redsneakers.org is an incredible foundation to educate about allergies)
 
 
Moms of Kids without Allergies
*Be aware of who is in your house and make sure you are prepared to help in case of an allergy emergency. 
*Be mindful of the foods you allow your children to eat out in public where another child could get access to their food. 
*Be aware of your child’s school rules regarding food and understand other kids’ limitations. 
 
I don’t believe every parent should accommodate the needs of all allergies that may arise, but it is so important that we are sensitive and aware to protect our kids and ourselves. I also feel lucky that I have my little guy with me today and that when he went into anaphylactic shock, he was in a place where he was able to get the immediate help he needed. 
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Katie is a Des Peres mom of two young boys, Trace (2014) and Henry (2016). Katie stays home with her boys most of the time but also spends a bit of time away as a high school lacrosse coach. Katie enjoys connecting with other moms to run, meet at parks, explore new restaurants, listen to live music and discuss books. Katie and her boys can be found enjoying many activities around St. Louis including the Science Center, Zoo, Magic House, Museum of Transportation, Urban Fort and Frisco Train Store, but what they enjoy most is just being outdoors. They have tried many of the parks around St. Louis City and county and also love hiking trails at Laumeier Sculpture Park, Powder Valley and Shaw Nature Reserve. Katie and her family love all that St. Louis has to offer for families of young children and can most often be found taking advantage of all of the many opportunities.