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Let's Talk Babies!

Nut Allergies

I’ve learned that having a child with a nut allergy means you have to read the labels of everything you buy a little more carefully. As you load your grocery cart you are looking for actual nuts in the ingredients list of everything you pick up as well as special label warnings such as “may contain nuts”, “produced on shared equipment with nuts”, or “produced in a facility that also processes nuts”. Since even the smallest amount of nut protein can result in an allergic reaction it is always best to steer clear of any product you either suspect may contain nuts, or you suspect may have come into contact with nuts.

Remember, there is a lot of stuff out there that is perfectly safe for your child to eat and the more you learn about nuts and nut allergies the better you will get at identifying safe and unsafe foods.

There are a few foods that are considered “high risk” for those with nut allergies. They include;

  • Baked goods: Unless you make it yourself or it has a clear label that it is safe it is probably a good idea to avoid it. Cross-contamination is very common with baked goods as there is a lot of sharing of prep surfaces, cooking surfaces and cooking utensils.
  • Candy (especially chocolate): There are a few candy manufacturers that make some of their chocolate and candies in nut free facilities, however, most are prepared on shared surfaces with nut products. Read the labels carefully. If it isn’t labeled as safe, skip it.
  • Ice Cream: Cross-contamination is very common in ice cream parlors. The same scoop is used over and over again. Even soft serve can become cross-contaminated if the same machine dispenses multiple kinds of ice cream. Do your research before allowing your child to eat ice cream while you’re out. The safest thing to do is to buy a carton of ice cream from the store so you know what the ingredients are and you know the product is safe.
  • Ethnic Foods: African and Asian cuisine often contain peanuts and tree nuts. With Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine cross-contamination is possible as some of their dishes may contain nuts. It is best to avoid these foods unless you absolutely know it is safe (ie you made it yourself or have talked to the restaurant owner and chef).
  • Sauces: Many chefs use peanuts, peanut butter, or other nuts to thicken their sauces. Read labels, talk to the restaurant manager, and know it is safe before you allow your child to consume it.

To name a few. It really comes down to doing your homework. Thankfully food labels are a lot easier to read now adays and often contain special warnings that make it so much easier to identify safe and unsafe foods. Nuts can be easy to avoid if you know what to look for.

Here are a few helpful websites:

As I mentioned last week Maya was referred to an allergist for some testing due to a possible peanut allergy. Well, we had that appointment today. I had done a little research about what to expect at the appointment on a few forums and through talking with her pediatrician (whose own daughter has a nut allergy). I was a little worried about the appointment since Maya HATES all doctors and nurses (anyone in scrubs!) and I had heard that the tests can be particularly difficult for little ones because they don’t understand what is going on and have to sit still for an extended period of time. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Maya started getting tense as soon as we entered the building and started crying as soon as she saw the receptionist behind the desk. Our appointment was one of the first of the day so we didn’t have to wait at all, we were taken right back into an exam room. Maya cried the whole time Dr. Allergy was in the room with us. It made it a bit difficult to talk about her medical history, family history, etc :). Every time Dr. Allergy or his nurse entered the room she would start crying and saying “all done” and “bye-bye”. Thankful she would stop crying as soon as Dr. Allergy or his nurse left the room so that made it a little easier on her and me.

The test itself wasn’t too bad, really. They used a small plastic disc with tiny pins on it. The allergens were put on the ends of the pins and then the pins were pressed into her back. It leaves behind an oil droplet so I had to be careful that neither Maya or myself touched her back. This was the part I thought would be particularly difficult since not many 18 month olds are game for sitting still. To my amazement she gladly sat still. I sat in a chair and just had Maya laying on my chest. She was happy to lay there contently and actually fell asleep for a few minutes while we were waiting to see what would happen. The nurse came in part way through the test to check on us and Maya cried but was fine again as soon as she left the room.

After just a couple of minutes I could see red marks forming on her back and figured that probably meant she was allergic. Sure enough, the nurse came back in after 15 minutes to wipe it all off her back and apply some cream to alleviate the itching and swelling, she said she tested positive for peanuts, cashews and pistachios. Poor Maya is allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts. I’m so bummed for her.

The doctor gave us a prescription for a Twinject, which is a type of epipen along with a list of instructions on when to use it. Pretty much if she ingests nuts and has any sort of reaction, be it a rash, swelling, or shortness of breath we have to administer the epipen and then call 911. Needless to say I was a little freaked out listening to the doctor explain it all.

One of my biggest questions for the doctor was how she ended up with a food allergy since there is no family history of food allergies on either my side or Daddy’s side and she has no other allergies. Well, it turns out that children with a family history of asthma or eczema do have a higher risk of having nut allergies (thanks Daddy’s side of the family ;))

There is a small chance, about 20%, that she will out grow this allergy so we will take her back in a few years for additional testing. Keeping my fingers crossed that she is one of the few who out grow it.

I’m off to do a ton of research on nut allergies, safe foods, etc. I’ll share what I find.