Advice about Food Allergies

Parent Q&A

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  • My 1-year-old son has multiple food allergies (peanuts, eggs, and sesame). He was diagnosed soon after he started solids but I’m still having a really tough time dealing with the anxieties of feeding him and imagining what his life will be like when he’s older. I would appreciate the following recommendations:

    - A therapist for me. Ideally someone who has experience working with parents. 
    - Allergists around Berkeley area who do OIT

    - Any other resources for food allergy support

    I wanted to reach out to show support. My child has multiple known and unknown allergies. Like your baby, we learned about the food allergy when starting solids. Peanut and egg allergy is not difficult to navigate as nut/peanut allergy is very common and vegan diet is very delicious with no eggs. We are able to bake just about any desserts and cook most of our favorites using vegan ingredients. (We are not vegans by the way.) It took some time getting used to it because my favorite food is egg and my spouse's favorite food is peanut/nut and then we ended up with a child who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs!  I'm not sure how severe your child's allergy is, but for us, we have allergy medicine well stocked and in every bag/purse/wallet. At 1 year old, you can easily and fully control the baby's diet. Restaurant food can trigger allergy, but when we began introducing our child to restaurant food, she was old enough to take chewable claritin which is actually delicious and kid loved it like it was candy.  Sometimes, our child has environmental allergy and we have no idea what causes it yet. Definitely talk to your pediatrician.  While I don't love that our child has to depend on antihistamine so often, doctors have assured us that it is not harmful to do so. So we make sure to have antihistamines and wipes on hand and live our lives.  Birthday parties get a little tricky, so we bring our own cupcake and/or cookies. Thankfully, most preschools and schools no longer have a "nut table" where they isolated kids with food allergy. So, my child didn't have to feel excluded because of allergy. Once in a while, we sneak away and indulge in the forbidden food -- e.g. Pad Thai. No matter how well we clean ourselves, we can tell the kid is irritated when we come back from our forbidden food outing. We give her an antihistamine because we need a break once in a while.  It's also possible that your baby grows out of allergy. My friend's child had allergy to egg, dairy, and nuts. At 6 years old, the child is still allergic to eggs but is no longer allergic to dairy and sensitivity to nuts has decreased. I had shellfish allergy as a child but I can stuff myself with crabs, lobsters and shrimps now. I love my therapist who is compassionate and has been very helpful with my anxiety. https://www.michellesicula.com/

    You've got this! 

    Just wanted to be sure you know about the organization  Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). Lots of resources. 
    https://www.foodallergy.org/

    There's a Facebook group called Food Allergy Talk and Treatment that might be useful.  

    I know of people who have recommended Allergy and Asthma Medical Group, and Columbia Allergy Associates.  I haven't tried either yet (we currently have Kaiser, which doesn't do OIT except with Palforzia).  I am also thinking of exploring SLIT, which Columbia does.

  • Dietitian for infant with food allergies

    (3 replies)

    My 11 week old son has some food allergies (triggered by my breastmilk) and we're seeking additional professional help. Any leads are welcome!

    Hi! 

    My nine month old had a skin test at 6mo because I knew something was up, and we went to Colombia Allergy in Oakland to get it done with Dr. Kaur. Then, for reintroduction and any questions/help/support in general, Free to Feed is a private company that helps parents and nursing parents with food allergy support and I loved working with them. Make sure to get a 30 minute consult with Dr. Trill. You won't regret it. 

    Wishing you all the best!

    We also went through this! (Soy + dairy + rice both through milk and directly when baby started to eat - didn't outgrow until almost 3.). Are you with Kaiser? If so, Susan Goddard is very well-versed and walked through this every step with us.  Our GI was Samira Mian. We did work with a dietitian (who just moved away, sadly) but only to choose an alt milk at 1 (and we had to bring her safe options to pick from because she like all folks who don't live it just didn't understand these babies react to "natural flavors" and pea protein!) Frankly, parents who have been there have more experience since most kids outgrow by 1 when it really affects diet so the doctors are a bit lost. Even ours sent us to the official online support groups which gave us lists of all the safe products! If you PM me I am happy to add you to the groups!

    Hi,

    First I want to say I strongly suggest you meet with an allergist. I love Dr. Jones. Here is a link to the practice- https://bayareaallergy.com/

    Second, I have to ask what you mean by breast milk trigger allergies? I ask because there is a difference between food allergies and food intolerances. I found that my children had intolerance to foods that were passed from my diet through my breast milk but they were not true allergies. If it's not intolerance and it is a true allergy, then you can do skin testing and blood work to see the protein levels that your child is allergic to. Due to your child being so young that may be a real struggle.

    Here is my experience, both my kids had food intolerance to lactose. Anytime I had the smallest amount of dairy that was enough lactose that went through my breast milk and caused them both significant issues. I'm talking extreme gassiness lead to full of hours of screaming and making us spend hours of "leg pumping" our baby to help her pass gas. Along with projectile vomiting/spit up constantly.

    Now as a first time mother with my first child, it took us a a while to narrow down what was causing the problems. First our pediatrician said it was just normal baby stuff. After endless searching, I found how that lactose intolerance babies have the symptoms my baby was experiencing. This was when she was just a month old. I immediately changed my diet and after 2-4 weeks it cleared through my milk and my baby's symptoms disappeared. During that 2 to 4 week transition of my body cleaning out the lactose from my milk everyday got a little better. 

    With my second child, her first week she had these symptoms. So I immediately knew what to do and of course changing my diet cleared all symptoms!

    So if you are experiencing that it's probably a food intolerance possibly to lactose that can be handled through changing your diet. However, there are a small number of true food allergies that can be passed through breast milk to baby where you're seeing actual true allergic reactions.

    I am happy to say that my oldest who is now 8 only has a mild lactose intolerance and no true food allergies. But when my youngest (who is now 3) started eating solid food at 6 months we learned she has several true food allergies, including a severe food allergy to dairy (learning that was SO scary!). Since she was 6 months old she goes in every 6-12 months for bloodwork, skin testing, monitoring and hopefully soon some oral challenges on some of her lesser food allergies.

    I can not stress enough to talk to your pediatrician and an allergist. To know exactly what your baby can handle before meeting with a dietitian. Once to know that you'll have a better idea of what you can or can't include in your diet. 

    Best of luck to you and your sweet baby. Feel free to message me for more information on my experiences. Congratulations!

  • OIT for baby's food allergy?

    (4 replies)

    We recently had our 10-month old diagnosed with several allergies - egg, peanut, cashew, almond, and sesame. We have been seeing Dr. Lodewick at the Allergy & Asthma Medical group on the reco of our pediatrician. This has been really hard news for me to handle and I'm feeling a lot of anxiety about what life will be like for our kiddo as he gets older. Dr. Lodewick has recommended a strict avoidance + epi pen route but I have read posts on BPN and talked to other parents who have used other doctors at the same medical group who have been encouraging of OIT. Our doctor seems very against it but I hear from parents who believe it has helped. I know that time can be of the essence with these. Does anyone have any experience at Allergy & Asthma Medical group, either with Dr. Lodewick or someone else, OIT in general, or another doctor that you can recommend? I'm eager to see what other options might be. 

    Ellen Cutler, Bioset Clinic in Mill Valley. https://drellencutler.com/

    Very expensive. Not covered by insurance. Worth every penny. Very altenerative approach. Saved me and my child's lives both physically and mentally!

    I can recommend Dr. Gendo for OIT!

    We see Dr. Gendo at Allergy & Asthma and he has been phenomenal. He doesn't push any "treatment" on us, but talks about the options and then we decide what we are comfortable with -- and that has included OIT. Our toddler's allergies were not super severe, but she did have an epi pen for an egg allergy which she has now outgrown (in ~ 1 year). Her other allergies have all resolved as well. Highly recommend Dr. Gendo!

    We also go to Allergy & Asthma Medical group for our daughter (now 4) but see a different doctor.  She was diagnosed with peanut, egg, walnut, hazelnut, and perhaps some other tree nut allergies that I am forgetting.  These all came up positive on her skin prick and blood tests.  We did the 3-4 hour long "taste test" in office for walnut and egg and she passed.  They advised we come back for in-office "taste tests" for all other tree nuts but we just did them at home.  This was against the advise of the doctor, but we felt it was very low risk as there are no other food allergies in the family, we have an epi-pen, and she had passed the others in the office.  Our pediatrician was ok with our plan (although we told him after the fact).  We have NOT given her peanuts because that is the only food that she did have a reaction to after eating prior to 6 months of age.  We would like to return to the office to do a taste test there, but they advise you space these out a bit, they're difficult to schedule, and.....pandemic.

    I'm happy to talk more offline about our experience.  Good luck!

  • We just found out that our babies have some significant food allergies and are hoping for recommendations for providers and resources. Any recommendations of clinics or specific providers? Great online resources or places to get information? Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    We love Dr. Gendo at Bay Area Allergy. We were frequent visitors to the Oakland office for oral challenges for my toddler who has now outgrown all of her allergies. I loved that Dr. Gendo references research and that the practice is evidence-based. He also gave us tips and resources so we felt confident introducing foods at home. 
     

    So sorry you're dealing with this!!  Our son has been seen by both Morna Dorsey and Laurence Cheng at the UCSF pediatric allergy clinic at Mission Bay in San Francisco, and I recommend them both very highly.  We're dealing with a complicated diagnosis with multiple auto-immune diseases plus multiple food allergies, and they've been thorough, patient, communicative, and compassionate.  It's a bit of a hassle getting into the city, but it has been 100% worth it.

    Sorry to hear about your babies' food allergies.  The upside is that you are now on a path to get more information and potential action steps!  I have an 11-year old with multiple nut and sesame allergies that are anaphylactic.  We started this journey when he was 18 months old.

    Dr. Joseph Hernandez is a great western medicine/mainstream doctor.  He is Stanford based but has a clinic in Sutter/SF.  I'm not a fan of Dr. Tam's clinic.  

    For the future when you get further down the path----

    We are about to start the Tolerance Induction Program (TIP) at the Socal Food Allergy Institute in Long Beach.  It is a food-based immunotherapy program with total food freedom as the end goal.  Many doctors (even allergists) do not know about this unique program.  There is a many month-long waitlist.  (It is not the same as oral immunotherapy -OIT- that is prevalent here.)

    Wishing you the best!  You will likely find great support here talking to other parents.

    Hi,

    We have a toddler with several serious food allergies. We learned about her allergies when she was a baby, too. First, I want to say that it feels overwhelming at first, but when you find the right doctor and resources, it gets easier. We have been very happy with the Allergy and Asthma Medical Group of the Bay Area: bayareaallergy.com

    We go to the Berkeley location and see Dr. Gilbert, who we love, but all the doctors there seem great. 

    Our favorite online resource is FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education): foodallergy.org

    They have a whole online informational packet for families with a newly diagnosed child and lots of other resources. We also sometimes use Snack Safely, which lists products free from the top 8 allergens: snacksafely.com

    Also, if I may add a little unsolicited advice, we have found that a lot of people don't fully understand what it means to have a serious food allergy and the most important thing to keep our daughter safe has been to really speak up to educate those around us and advocate for her safety. Dr. Gilbert and our pediatrician have been great resources and supports for us while learning how to navigate food allergies.  

    Good luck, and if you are interested, I would be happy to talk more. 

    All the best!

  • Our 7-month old was recently diagnosed with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and eggs. No one in our family has food allergies so this is new for us. She seems to be touch sensitive to at least peanuts and we now carry an epi-pen everywhere. We are working with an allergist at the Allergy and Asthma Medical Group (AAMG), but were hoping for some advice from other families with infants and young children who have food allergies. We are about to start daycare at a nut-free daycare but we are concerned about soy and eggs, as well as cross-contact with nuts. We would love advice on how to work with daycare staff and other parents to make daycare a safe environment for our daughter. We would also really appreciate advice on what to do when eating out, traveling, visiting friends and relatives, and any other tips. Thank you! 

    Hello and welcome to the world of parenting a child with allergies!

    Our child was diagnosed at about 6 months with the same set of allergies yours has as well as milk and wheat. Working with daycare wasn't too much of a problem and they were very willing to work with us. Fortunately, he's since outgrown the milk, egg, and wheat allergies so now he's left with peanuts, tree nuts, and soy.

    At our daycare, we provided all of our child's food and when meal time came, he was seated at his own chair with tray adjacent to the table the other kids were at. Then he'd stay there until the staff had an opportunity to sweep up any crumbs and stuff left from the other kids.

    As far as medication, the school was comfortable administering an epi-pen if needed--fortunately that never occurred. In the two day cares he's been at, one was comfortable administering OTC meds (benadryl) for mild break outs, the other was not.

    For day to day life, you kind of just slowly adjust. We check ingredients on everything. When eating out, we mostly stick to places with fresh ingredients. What you'll soon find is that soy and soy lecithin are in EVERYTHING. My wife found soy in the ingredients for her tea because it was a part of the lemon flavor. Most packaged breads have soy as do most ice creams. However, we've found that fresh bread and ice cream shops where they make their own ice cream are usually safe. Depending on how severe your child's allergies are, you might be willing to chance it once in a while. Our child's reaction to soy is mostly hives and luckily (knock on wood) nothing has caused anaphylaxis. We just make sure to keep benadryl on hand in those rare cases he breaks out. 

    Our child is now two and has come to understand that some foods "make you itchy" so doesn't put up much fuss if told they can't have something. 

    Hopefully this was helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  • OIT (Oral Immunotherapy) for Peanut Allergy

    (3 replies)

    Our allergist (AAMG group in Berkeley) is recommending our tween child go through OIT for peanut desensitization. It's a long process and driving for office visits but I know there are life-long benefits to be had. Wondering if anyone has gone through this recently and your results/experiences/surprising things. Thank you! - Oakland Mom

    I highly recommend OIT for your peanut allergic child. We are currently seeing AAMG to further desensitize our son to peanuts and other nuts. We went to the Sean Parker Center at Stanford for the initial OIT. It was well worth the driving to and from appointments. Our son can now eat one whole peanut without reaction and it has transformed our lives. While he continues to avoid all nuts and carry an Epipen, we no longer have to be totally on guard all the time. He can eat foods fried in peanut oil, as well as food that is manufactured in a facility or equipment that processes peanuts since cross contamination is not as big a concern as it used to be. I don't think I was aware of the daily stress his peanut allergy caused me until OIT relieved some of it.

    I am curious about this therapy as well. Would you mind sharing any feedback you receive with me? My daughter has a sever peanut allergy. Thank you!

    Hi, my two kids are AAMG patients currently doing OIT (peanut for one kid, cashew/egg/dairy for the other), we started last summer.  Every other week we drive from Berkeley to San Ramon.  We feel super lucky that we have the opportunity to be doing OIT.  My kids are currently cleared for nut cross-contamination, which means accidental exposures won't result in epi or the ICU (which has happened to us).  As practical matter, this this past Halloween was the first time my seven-year-old was able to eat Kit Kats, Twix and M&Ms.  And I didn't have to worry!  The freedom is amazing and an unbelievable relief.  We did a year of peanut SLIT with my daughter (in Berkeley) before starting OIT, so she was able to start her OIT at a fairly high dose.  She is currently up to four peanuts (!) but we are continuing to updose because she would like to be able to eat peanut butter someday, and because my son (who wants to eat all his allergens as well) has a ways to go with egg and milk, though he's currently up to 1.5 cashews.  But if we just wanted protection from nut cross-contamination, we could be in maintenance at this point (i.e., no more visits to the allergist). 

    But there are downsides of OIT.  The drive to San Ramon is rough -the appointments are about 1.5 hours, so either your kids miss tons of school or you hit massive traffic, no way around it - we leave Berkeley around 2 on Wednesdays and get home around 6.  Until you get on "real" food (basically, when the amounts are so small they need to be weighed out), you get powders from AAMG's dietician and the cost isn't covered by insurance.  You also need to have a 2.5-3 hour "window" for daily dosing: predosing with zyrtec, dosing with the allergen, then a "rest period" of a couple hours where vigorous activity isn't allowed but your kid has to be awake.  It is doable, but it really adds to the already-complicated planning matrix that exists when you have kids.  Mine are young (5 and 7) and not involved in serious sports activities or anything like that, but I'm not sure how we'd do it if they were.  Finally, I would ask if your child is interested in doing OIT.  If they are super resistant (fearful or picky), I think it would be really hard.  You have to dose daily, and to have it be a daily battle might be a dealbreaker for me. 

    But if you can swing it, I would highly recommend it.  OIT offers so much freedom and peace of mind.  

Parent Reviews

My child was diagnosed for years with asthma. She also said the puffers never helped her.  Ill make a long story short, turned out her allergies created flu like symptoms and difficulty breathing.  This caused problems with her sleep cycle, which caused anxiety and depression. Finally I met with the chief of allergy.  He ordered the blood draws and  he referred her to head and neck. They found she had a deviated septum and inflamed nasal passages. (always inflamed.) Post nasal drip down the throat as she could not really blow her nose. A small procedure reduced the tissue and had a huge impact on her ability to breath. She was thrilled.  Also added allergy shots which also provided huge huge relief. 

I will tell you the Head and Neck did not really think the procedure would do much, but it did. The tissue does grow back and she will do it again. (its been about three years and she is about to do it again...she requested it. 

Anxiety is now almost completely gone, grades are way up, and most importantly I have a pretty content daughter again.  Still a little picky about food but not too bad. Loves vegetables so yay! (Allergy to fruit is very common when you have pollen allergies.  Cooking, or a slight zap in the micro seems to take away the itch reaction she gets.)

I think the blood test is far more reliable then the scratch.

Hope this helps!

PS they were more then happy to give her ssri's and therapy. Turns out all she needed was the root problem addressed. And yes we did all things HEPA.

I didn't and still don't make a big  deal out of subway and pizza and goldfish.