Early days; how did we find out our little man has food allergies?

Brooklyn has multiple food allergies. Cows milk protein allergy, soy, egg, wheat and gluten allergies.

The food proteins pass through my breast milk to him and affect him in a variety of ways:

* Eczema; he generally flares up around his eyes, welts around his eye lids and next to his eyes, forehead and anywhere around the face.
* Red lower eye lids
* Hives on his body
* Enterocollitis, inflamation of the stomach, bad stomach pains – NOTHING helps he just screams and screams and goes backwards in pain 🙁 initially this was him pulling on and off the breast, stiffening out, having gas no matter how much I burped him
* Frothy poo initially – explosive nappies
* Later the frothy poo changes to the passing of blood & mucous
* Fussy with breastfeeding and food

The visible symptoms last about 4 days on average.

A lot of people wonder if their baby has food allergies so I will post about how we found out and our story.

Disclaimer: I am not giving any medical advice, I am not equipped to do so, I am merely stating what our experience has been.

It was not an easy road, however it was rather quick and the suffering did not go on for too long so that I am SO grateful for.

From the beginning, I noticed our little man was a lot ‘gassier’ than his sister but I wasn’t too concerned, just assumed every baby is different, as they say. The midwifes even noticed it as well at the hospital and agreed, we all thought it was his immature stomach and that it would come good between 6 – 12 weeks as his gut matured, but it never came good, it only got worse.

Trying to think back to those early days as it is all quite a blur now, but one of the main things I remember is how it affected his sleep. We had our first child (daughter; BCB) on a routine from when she came home from hospital and it worked so well for us, it made one very content baby and two very confident first time parents, therefore we were huge advocates of doing a routine (it might not be for everyone but it certainly is for us!) Anyway, we agreed we would do the same for our second bubba since it worked so well first time around.

Bubba would go to sleep in his bassinet fine only to wake 20 minutes later in pain, he would be doing like a sucking motion with his mouth and I was unsure at first if he was still hungry so I would give him a top up feed, but then it occurred to me this was only making him worse. When he was in pain it was quite obvious, he would scrunch up his legs and pass wind, his nappies were bubbly and sloppy and then he would go for days without pooing and everyone would say that’s okay for a breastfed baby but he was obviously uncomfortable. The symptoms got worse and stronger as the time went by so I started to think it must be something else, I was confident as the routine meant that everything was already taken care of.

I was really struggling to work out what was happening and struggling with him only going to sleep for 20 minutes to wake in pain, I hated seeing him suffer, I hated not knowing what the hell was going on. I spoke to the health clinic nurses, talked to the Australian Breastfeeding association. They all said I might have an oversupply and that it should settle down around six weeks once my milk supply evened out. I even raised it with the Doctor at his six week appointment however he didn’t really say anything and fobbed it off as if I was being pedantic since he was growing and ticking all the normal developmental boxes.

It did not improve after six weeks. I started wondering if it was a lactose intolerance as my husband is lactose intolerant and I noticed it seemed similar but worse to what my husband experiences when he drinks regular milk. I looked into this on the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s website and some of the symptoms seemed to be familiar but it still wasn’t making 100% sense because of there are two different types of lactose intolerences. Anyway, I spoke to the health nurse again, at this point I was really at the end of my rope, he was in so much pain so often and still catnapping and waking a lot purely in pain, I was finding it hard to cope so I was at a point where I really wanted a solid answer.

The health nurse said yes probably lactose intolerance, try going lactose free. I tried that which meant I reduced dairy a bit and it seemed to help a little but then I noticed when I was having the lactose free milk he was still having issues and now progressed to flaring up with itchy welts on his face, red eyes which he would scratch open. It was suggested to me on an online forum that maybe he has a cows milk protein allergy. I hadn’t heard of this until now!

I went back to the Doctors, another Doctor with a glimmer of hope, and to ask – is it a cows milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance? Doctor’s answer; I don’t know… Grr.. seriously.. Anyway I can’t remember what she suggested but I tried dairy free from therein and saw an improvement but was still noticing occasional days where we would have the same problem. By this point I was keeping a food diary and I was 100% sure I wasn’t having any dairy so I wondered what could it be and I noticed it was around the time I was having eggs, so goodbye eggs went too.

I saw my naturopath around this time for nutritional advice and she gave me access to a cool program called Victus that spits out recipes tailored to your allergies which was really helpful, but she also had some good nutritional advice in general and is always wonderful so that was a bit of a glimmer of hope that things were going to get easier.

Then, sometime after this, it must have been when he was approx. 10 weeks old he passed blood, which I knew was linked to food allergies, but we took him to the Emergency Department at the hospital as I was sick of not having proper answers from medical professionals and a “proper” diagnosis and thought this is the quickest way to see a paediatrician and get to the bottom of it.

We were seen by some kind of specialist and he knew exactly all about cows milk protein allergies and confirmed the diagnosis; enterocolitis from food protein allergies. He then referred us to a lovely paediatrician who was there for my daughter’s birth. We saw him and he confirmed dairy and egg allergies but also suspected soy as they are all similar proteins plus my food diary was also looking that way.

He suggested as we weren’t 100% sure re soy to challenge it at home, this was just before Christmas in 2015. I noticed he was reacting and I was not 100% sure about the ‘traces’ and ‘processed on equipment with’ whether I could eat them so I frantically tried to get him on the phone before the Christmas break and he confirmed it is a no to trace elements. He said to me that an allergy means they will react to microscopic amounts and I have learnt since that is 100% correct when it comes to BRB.

The paed suggested we try introducing later by me just ingesting a glass of milk and ‘seeing what happens’ which did not sit well with me so we have been referred to an allergist. We saw the allergist 4 months ago and she discussed the testing but said it’s too early to be accurate. She said it is a bad allergy if he reacts through my milk and not to have any of the allergens and not give him any of the allergens when introducing solids as there is a moderate anaphylaxis risk, especially seeing as he has never directly ingested. She gave me a hypoallergenic prescription formula script “just in case” to take the pressure off and requested we see her again at the end of this year to go from there.

I had no intent to wean him as I love breastfeeding him and was ‘happy’ to restrict my diet for his needs however I did want to see how he’d go with the formula just in case I didn’t have any pumped milk and was away for him, for example, I had in mind that I would need to go to uni 4 days in April and I had pumped (like 8 bottles) but the freezer door was left open so the milk thawed and I lost the whole stash (TALK ABOUT MELTDOWN) … anyway, when I tried him on the formula he would just spit it  he had no issues with bottles, he had EBM many times absolutely no issue, but as soon as the taste of the formula hit his taste buds he knew it and hated it , so there went the idea of any pressure off and back to pumping left right and centre in prep I went!!!

Suggestions of things that helped us:

* Early days; keep a food diary
* Infants friend and infacol is great to help babies with wind pain and also keep bowel movements regular
* Do ensure that you are burping frequently enough; every 3 minutes for breastfeeding – keep them off the breast until they burp then return them or every 30 mls for formula feeding also not returning until they burp
* CHECK EVERY SINGLE LABEL
* Don’t eat food unless you can check all labels
* Be mindful of “may contain traces of” and “made on equipment with” Even if it’s microscopic amounts and below the actual reporting threshold hence the “may”, Brooklyn still reacts.
* DRILL PEOPLE, I know it’s awkward and you feel extremely rude, but it’s better to offend someone than have your baby in agony because someone has missed something
* Do up allergy cards for restaurants with a list of the allergies
* Call/email ahead; I like having it in writing to be honest so email and facebook is good
* BEWARE of alcohol: wine is often refined with milk and eggs :/, vodka can be made from wheat…look for one made from potatoes or grapes

I will continue to update as he gets older and hope so much that he grows out of it! I will also move on to talk about my own different food allergies, my daughter’s and my husbands. We are a bag of fun to entertain 😉

Love Meowmy x

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