Lindsay Gill: 10 things to know once your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

10 things to know once your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy

Sophie was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy. I had read that early peanut exposure is now recommended, as opposed to waiting as recommended with Luke. We gave her a bite of Bamba, an Israeli peanut butter snack. She developed 2 small bumps under her chin. I was in denial and wrote it off as heat rash, and even hoped for a quick second that we didn't have bed bugs (???). Then, she had a bite of toast with peanut butter on it, and developed a full body rash. My mom quickly gave her a bath and gave her Benedryl, which luckily took care of her symptoms.

We told the Pediatrican who referred us to an allergist. For those in the area, we saw Dr. Bayuk who came highly recommended by a close friend. When we arrived, they took a quick history and then set her up for a skin test to confirm the allergy. She had to have her shirt off, and could not touch her back for 15 minutes, even though it may feel itchy. The nurse took the small piece of plastic with 6 different allergens and pushed it into her back. She barely noticed. She did seem to get uncomfortable by the end of 15 minutes. The peanut test was visibly positive, but luckily negative for the other 5 allergens.

Dr. Bayuk sent us home with an EpiPen. I wasn't armed with questions, mostly because I was in denial and expected different news. I did not feel like I was qualified to be driving home with a girl with a peanut allergy.

I reached out to some fellow moms and the pediatrician and learned so much in the next few hours.  I wanted to share their experience and advice, because it can be an overwhelming diagnosis. (I am not not a doctor and am not qualified to give peanut allergy advice.)

1.  It is possible they will outgrow this. 20% of kids will outgrow it. This is a scary allergy because it is in the most likely to be anaphylactic.

2.  All packaged food sold in the USA is required to label for the top 8 allergens including peanuts. But the law doesn't require that they label for all cross contamination (made in a factory or made on same equipment with). For example, Dunkin Hines don't say "contains peanut" but when you speak to the company, they cannot guarantee this because they are made on the same equipment.  Pillsbury and Betty Crocker are said to be safe, though.

3.  Some allergists are doing treatment called OIT to slowly desensitize patients. The process usually takes about a year. The child gets a daily dose of peanuts and is observed for two hours, no running around or hot baths during that time.  Our allergist did not mention this to us yet, he told us to return for a recheck in two years.

4. Sophie is only one, so I just ordered her a medical alert bracelet. This is the one I got her (in pink of course), but there are so many choices, even on Etsy.

5.  There are many support groups on Facebook and blogs to help. They can be frightening, but good resources. Here are a few: Peanut Allergy MomPeanut Free GaryNo Nuts Moms Group, and Dining Out with Food Allergies. There is also an app (I haven't used it yet) called Allergy Eats which seems to be useful when eating out.

6. There is an EpiPen which can be about $600 or an off-brand kind that is closer to $200 (depending on insurance.) If you register the EpiPen, you receive a free carrying case. Ours is bright yellow which helps to see it in the diaper bag. There is a Savings Card on their website which can also be helpful depending on insurance. I was told to keep the EpiPens as a pair because it is possible that the child would need a second dose in some cases, but I also heard that the second dose should only be given by a medical professional. Be aware that EpiPens do expire. My friend has an EpiPen in every room which seems ideal!

7.  There are many peanut free options like SunButter. There are companies that specialize in peanut free snacks! Also PNot Box and Skeeter Nut Free and Don't Go Nuts (we haven't tried these yet). There is also a company in Canada, I'll update this when I remember the name!

8. Travel with extra safe food always. I don't like trusting that people have read labels for me. Some family members have been bringing the package labels which was so thoughtful. We stopped at a rest stop on our trip to Buffalo and I felt so unprepared. Sophie was starving and I had to have her wait while I searched for a safe option. Next time I'll have prepacked food ready for her.

9. Our allergist told us to use Zyrtec rather than Benedryl due to Sophie's age. We keep it in our car and home.

10. You have to be a good advocate for your child! I've had to ask people to put food away, to not go near Sophie, and to leave their things outside of my house. It is awkward, but it has to be done. Good friends and family want to do what's best for your child and will do whatever they can to make things safe and comfortable. The allergies are so common that most schools are very aware and trained about allergies. I'm surprised that even Luke is very aware about Sophie's allergy and asks questions to try and keep her safe. Remember to train your babysitters and family on how to use an EpiPen, where they are located, and have a plan in place.

Please let me know if you have anything to add to this!

No comments:

Post a Comment