Monday, April 4, 2016

A Word On Food Allergies

Food allergies can be incredibly limiting if they are severe enough. In Abby's case she has been unable to eat or touch egg, milk, tree nut and agave for her entire life. She was previously allergic to blueberries but had the opportunity to "food challenge" out of those allergies. So what exactly is a "food challenge" you ask?

Briefly speaking a food challenge is a way to investigate how the body will react to an increasing amount of the food in question. For instance, when abby tested for blueberries she ate a small amount of blueberries mixed with vanilla yogurt every 20 minutes until she had consumed a full serving. If her reaction was minimal she "passed" and can now consume that food. Her reaction to blueberries was very mild so it was introduced into her diet and as she consumes it more and more her reaction becomes smaller and smaller. These tests are conducted over the course of 6-8 hours at a medical day unit of the hospital with close monitoring from a nurse and doctor.

The next step in her journey is more of a leap than a step. We are moving into the baked egg and baked milk territory. Recent findings showed that even in cases of severe skin and blood testing, a high number of patients can tolerate small amounts of baked eggs or milk. In order to determine if you are a candidate you must complete a food challenge. If you are fortunate enough to pass these tests you can eat baked eggs and/or milk and the theory is that by consuming the milk and egg in the baked form you might be able to build a tolerance to different forms.

Abby went through the necessary blood and skin testing and despite her numbers and skin tests growing, her doctor has decided to move on to a baked milk challenge and hopefully baked egg if she passes the first.

The idea of her being able to include these items in her diet is both exciting and terrifying. As a parent of a food allergic child you live in fear of a slip up. Someone doesn't realize an ingredient slipped in, she asks if it is allergy friendly and someone doesn't know. There are so many things that can go wrong. However, the answer to this is strict avoidance. I make her lunch and her snacks. I send food when she leaved the house. It minimized the potential for a problem. However, if we move from strict avoidance to baked it poses all new dietary questions and issue. Any unchartered territory is scary and this is no exception.

For now she is just thrilled that the idea of non-vegan donuts might be on her horizon. 

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