Trigger warning I do mention bodily fluid and blood though I will not be posting pictures in reference to these incidents.
Since Ellie was born she had very runny stools several times a day, as first-time parents, we didn’t think much of this until around 3 months old she started having diarrhea upwards of 10 times a day. This would cause the worst diaper rashes and we also started finding blood in her stools. Along with these symptoms, she had gotten a lot of eczema around the same time, as well as cradle cap, excessive spit-up and throwing up on occasion. which we hadn’t realized yet correlated with the foods I had been eating and her exposure through breastfeeding.
Top 8 free diet
We went to her pediatrician who suggested a dairy or soy allergy and also referred us to GI (gastroenteritis). I cut dairy and soy out of my diet and she still wasn’t improving so I decided to go top 8 free whilst we waited to get in to see the GI doctor. Top 8 includes Milk, Eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts), Fish, Shellfish, soy, and wheat.
We found this surprisingly easy to do, it wasn’t the tastiest or cheapest diet but we saw a little improvement with Ellie so kept it up until we got in to see the GI. He told us that sometimes babies have chronic diarrhea until their toddlers so this didn’t concern him but the blood in her stool was cause for concern but we had noticed was becoming less and less the longer we stayed top 8 free. He suggested we slowly every two weeks add something back into our diet and see if anything got worse again.
Trial and error was the suggestion
We followed the advice slowly adding things back into our diet but by the time we got to this point Ellie’s pediatrician had suggested adding solids into her diet. We decided to try to give her avocado as this seemed like a good choice for the first food, after one taste she refused it and developed a few hives. The next morning her eczema on her face had flared up, we assumed this was down to the acidity and maybe the avocado not being ripe enough.
First contact reaction
As she seemed to not enjoy this we moved on to banana the next time we tried solids, again Ellie refused to eat this and raspberried it down her face. Then her face, neck, and chest were covered with hives. We rushed her to the walk-in clinic nearest to us as it looked awful. They said to give Benadryl and gave us a referral to an allergist as it seemed to be an allergic reaction.
We put trying foods on hold for Ellie and we stopped our top 8 free diet as at this point we felt she was most likely allergic to bananas which I had been eating daily when her reactions had been worse. I cut bananas and avocado out of my diet as she seemed to have a smaller reaction to the avocados too. We got in quickly to see a pediatric allergist.
The evening before going we made Carbonara for dinner, traditionally with fresh eggs. After dinner I breastfed Ellie and she vomited a few times, which was concerning, other than vomiting though she seemed fine. In the morning she had diarrhea again and quite a bit of visible blood in her stool again, we were pretty sure egg was the culprit. We brought up all the foods we thought could be bothering Ellie to the allergist and they did a scratch test.
The scratch test was positive to egg, with the results for egg showing such a large reaction that they think if she was to directly eat egg it could result in an anaphylactic reaction. Though there is no way to know for sure without reaction. We were prescribed EpiPen jrs(epinephrine) and told to avoid eggs and products that had eggs in them.
Cutting out known allergens
We were also told to introduce peanut products into her diet and to have her have them three times a week. Now that she was diagnosed with food allergies they said she was more susceptible to others.
With the scratch test, the can only check for a finite amount of allergies. So they ask what things you think your child might be allergic to and also check for the top 8.
Once we cut the foods she was allergic too out of her diet within a few weeks her eczema was clear, she stopped spitting up and she was down from pooping upwards of ten times a day to only going once or twice a day. This lasted a few months.
About three months later her eczema returned, as did the loose stools. I suspected peanuts, we had been advised as she was susceptible to allergies to add peanut products into her diet three times a week. She had been eating them fine it seemed for 3 months but then after she would eat them she would get a rash on her face and her other symptoms would also be exacerbated.
We cut out the peanuts and made another appointment to go back to the allergist. Between booking the appointment and going back to the allergist Ellie also had an allergic reaction to a sesame seed. This was her worse reaction from exposure yet. We had given her humus and her face, neck, chest, tummy, arms, hands, legs, and anywhere on her body she touch was being covered in hives.
They decide this time to do a blood test to see the ige level of her allergy to egg and other foods we suspected. Again with pulling blood, you have a finite amount of tests you can do as you only draw so much blood at a time.
Ellie’s results came back with high positives to egg whites, egg yokes, sesame, and low positives to peanut and tree nuts. They also decided to do another scratch test and had me bring in the foods we suspected she was allergic too. They wanted to mash the fresh foods and test with those, as her banana and avocados test had come back negative before and they had mentioned that sometimes this is due to that they’re testing with essence and not a fresh sample so it’s not always as clear a result.
At the allergist, she was diagnosed with allergies to egg white, egg yolk, sesame, banana, kiwi, avocado, and low allergy levels to tree nuts and peanuts. They say reaction always trumps testing, and we new with how Ellie was after banana, avocado, and kiwi that there was an allergy, and testing with the fresh components confirmed this.
With the low level to tree nuts and peanuts, they suggest reintroduction different tree nuts one at a time, starting with cashew her lowest allergy level positive on her blood test. Straight away her eczema flared up and her stools were lose and her toshy had a rash and hives from contact with the stool, though we had changed her immediately. Again reaction trumps test results and so we held back on reintroducing these to her diet.
Ellie has now been free from all her allergies including peanuts and tree nuts now for a year. Her stools are normal for a toddler, she goes day between pooping which is her normal, and her eczema is completely gone.
It’s been surprisingly easy after the first few months to navigate the diet changes but it’s now second nature what we can and can’t eat and checking the packaging. The only thing is eating out is difficult, sometimes it’s easier/safer to stay in and make a nice meal. Luckily Cameron’s a great cook! This is easier then going out and having to ask a hundred questions and believe that they have got the information right.
Do you have any allergies in your family? There are some great community pages on Facebook if you’re ever looking for recipes or solidarity!