« Who knew I’d be talking to a preschooler about kissing! | Main | What about babies, food introduction and food allergies? »

February 27, 2006

Outgrowing a peanut allergy?

We just got home from our child’s allergy appointment. She is almost 10 and has been allergic to peanuts since before her 2nd birthday. I know because I witnessed a pretty strong reaction! I didn’t know enough to be scared at the time, but if it happened again today, my heart would skip plenty of beats! Since she was being tested for respiratory allergies, the doctor tested for, among other things, peanuts, “just to see.” The skin prick was NEGATIVE! Huh? Now what? Is it possible that she outgrew her peanut allergy?

We are in no hurry to find out clinically. We are not changing our ways. She will continue to avoid peanuts and everything containing traces of peanuts, just like she always has. If avoidance helps a child outgrow a food allergy, then she is definitely in the running! I’m a bit skeptical though, and here’s why.

We have another daughter with many food allergies, including wheat since she was 7 months old, old enough to chew on a teething biscuit. We did the strict avoidance thing and we were really good at it! So, years later, we were not terribly surprised when her skin prick was negative! So slowly, we introduced wheat into her diet. Things went well for about 6 months, long enough for her to acquire the taste of “regular” bread, crackers, pizza crust and cereal. Then she started getting hives again every time she ate wheat. Even to be around the mixer when we were making cookies with white flour gave her a really bad stuffy nose, enough that she had to get Benadryl and go outside to relieve the symptoms. We eliminated it from her diet again (a lot harder after her taste buds found out what wheat carbs tasted like!), and the hives disappeared and her eczema improved a bit. We’re still playing the balance game of “how much wheat can she have without getting hives or terrible eczema flares?”

So what do skin pricks really mean? For us and the wheat thing, it was more of a nuisance. For us and the peanut thing? Well, we’re going to give it more time. Life is not that hard steering clear of peanuts. And besides, do we really believe that this child, who has been programmed her entire life to stay away from peanuts, will actually eat something with peanuts? Our hope is that someday she'll only react slightly (if at all) by eating peanut products. That someday will have to wait because, for now, we still choose to be "peanut-free".

Posted by Ann Marie at February 27, 2006 2:55 PM