Dear Scratch or Sniff:
I am looking for a little advice. My infant was diagnosed with a milk protein allergy back when she was just a few days old. She had been vomiting old blood and having black stool (they tested and it was bloody as well). They told me to cut dairy since I was breastfeeding and bring another poo diaper back in 2 weeks. Problem solved.
I kept a food journal just in case. She kept projectile vomiting every time I would have anything with soy in it. I stopped eating soy as well, and talked to the pediatrician and he said that dairy and soy allergies are very linked and that she was most likely allergic to it. Any time dairy sneaks into my food (if we ever eat out..rare) she is miserable and has black stool for a couple of days. She is now 9 1/2 months and able to eat table foods.
My older two daughters do not have food allergies, and drop cheese, mac & cheese, etc. on the floor. I always make sure to clean it up, but I’m not perfect. I am afraid of her getting some and having a terrible reaction. All of her reactions have been “second hand” through breast milk. Should I talk to her pediatrician about an epi-pen now? I have NEVER dealt with food allergies and quite frankly they terrify me! I was only here for the eczema advice for my middle daughter and now am so thankful for this blog!
First of all, know that I completely understand that terrified feeling you mention. I can promise that as you get more experience with food allergies and as your sweet little one gets older, it does get easier. There are still moments of anxiety, tears, and being overwhelmed, but those moments are fewer and further between as they grow and you become more equipped to handle this new life.
Now, to answer your question: I would definitely talk to your pediatrician. Rather than just asking for an auto-injector (a personal aside here, we love us some Auvi-Q™ in our household for ease of use in case of an emergency), I would recommend asking for a referral to an allergist. Check your insurance to see if you even need a referral – if you have a PPO, you likely won’t need one.
Next, because of the symptoms you list, I might recommend doing some research on Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and discussing this possibility with your allergist. The reason I recommend this is because I’m not exactly sure how your little one’s milk protein allergy was diagnosed, and because FPIES can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea after ingestion of the allergen. It’s important to note that regular allergy testing won’t detect FPIES because it tests IgE in the blood and IgE is not involved in FPIES reactions. Exploring all possible diagnoses with your allergist before testing might make the entire diagnosis process a little easier for both you and your baby.
Assuming you have a bit of a waiting period before you get in to see a specialist, I’ve gathered a few resources that might be helpful for you to review:
Learn more about FPIES symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment The FPIES Foundation website. This might help you determine whether it’s something you need to discuss with your allergist.
I highly recommend the book Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It by Scott H. Sicherer, M.C., a professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This is a book I wish had been available when my son had his first reaction eight years ago. It covers any topic you wish to understand when it comes to food allergies – including a section on FPIES – in an easy to read format.
Consider joining a couple of support groups online and in person. Facebook has a plethora of closed groups where you can ask questions to many parents who have walked the same path you’re on now. I’ve found these groups to be not only supportive, but I’ve learned more from these moms and dads than I have in my short appointments with our allergist. These groups don’t replace a medical professional – you should still see an allergist – but having advice from people living it day in and day out is so helpful. One group that might be helpful to you is the Parents of Children With Multiple Food Allergies group. You can also search for groups that are set up for parents of children with milk allergies.
I hope this helps get you started in the right direction, and I wish you all the best. Please check back in and let us know what your allergist says.