How many times have a heard this. I have just seen a boy with severe eczema, food allergies, who is quite miserable. His mother is doing the best that she can and each time she takes him to her doctors they say “he will just grow out of it”. How irritating for the parents to hear this each time. This means that his doctor does not know how to manage allergies and is just fobbing these parents off.
The same doctor is unlikely to say “just get over it” to an adult with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Heart Disease. In my opinion, established disease which causes symptoms should be managed – not ignored! Children with eczema and other allergies can very much be helped. Start to think about food allergy/ intolerance.
In our allergy clinic (the Childrens Clinic | Allergy centre, Christchurch), every day I see children who have been suffering with allergies for years but without anyone really getting to the bottom of the problem. These children need investigation (usually skin tests or blood tests). Their allergies need to be clearly documented and a management plan implemented. This is what we do in The Children’s Clinic: where we take allergies seriously.
When your child has just been diagnosed with food allergy, you probably will want some help as to what to next.
We interviewed a group of mothers who had recently attended their appointment at the Childrens Clinic | Allergy Centre. Their children had been diagnosed with food allergy. We asked them how we could help them more. They said that they would like to know:
- What to do first, when feeling so overwhelmed.
- How strict does an elimination diet have to be.
- Advice on what children can eat once they have finished formula: a list of practical allergen free foods, especially breakfast and snacks.
- A phone number of the support group: many mothers said that it would be good to talk with other mothers who have gone through similar experiences.
- The shops in Christchurch that supply dairy- egg- free foods.
- About egg replacer, where to get it and how to use it.
- The alternative foods that supply calcium to their child’s diet.
- When their child comes off the formula, how do they know that they are getting all the nutrients they need.
- What are the alternative sources high nutrient foods that can replace dairy, egg and nuts.
- Practical recipes that are egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free.
- A detailed list of what foods their child can have, and must avoid (for example: soy sauce, sesame seeds, dressings, preservatives, colourings, gluten-free products).
- More ideas of how to cook with Neocate/ Elecare / Pepti-Junior special infant formulas.
- More information about anti-histamines, when they sould be used, as well as side effects.
- More about the progression of food allergy, when might the child outgrow the problem.
- When is it a good time to see a dietitian? Is their child is getting all the nutrients he needs.
- Is it safe to completely eliminate all dairy and/or egg from the diet.
- More help in reading food labels.
These are the questions that you are asking for more help. So we have answered all of these in detail. We have also produced you a practical and easy-to-use set of recipes so that you can feel confident your giving your child a fully nutritious diet that avoids milk, egg and nuts.
We have also gathered a list of useful websites related to buying safe foods for your child (we have asked these firms to check through and make sure that this information is correct).
If we haven’t been able to answer your questions, please let us know and we will help you even more.
A research paper by Wang & Sampson declare food allergy as very common. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21364287
They say: “Food allergies affect up to 6% of young children and 3%-4% of adults. They encompass a range of disorders that may be IgE and/or non-IgE mediated, including anaphylaxis, pollen food syndrome, food-protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, food-induced proctocolitis, eosinophilic gastroenteropathies, and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Many complex host factors and properties of foods are involved in the development of food allergy.”
Every one with on-going symptoms needs to be assessed for food allergy.
Clair, a mum, writes this to me:
“Dr Ford, it frustrates me so much to see so many babies on Zantac and comfort formula and still suffering. My daughter was one of those babies until she was diagnosed by you as having a milk protein allergy.
I moved back to the UK and my son was born. It took him to have 3 blue spells before the medics took me seriously: that it was allergy and after a serious A&E appearance it was finally acknowledged as anaphylaxis and his inhaler was replaced with an Epipen. I find it very hard to see so many kids suffering from obvious allergic symptoms that are ignored.
I just feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to see you all them years ago. As without your knowledge and diagnosis, I dread to think where we’d be.
Time that modern medicine woke up [to allergy and reflux disease]!”
Thanks for your kind words, Claire. Good to hear from you. Yes sadly, every day we see babies, children & adults who have been miss-diagnosed (or their diagnosis missed). Their allergies have gone unnoticed or ignored, or even worse, their allergy has been denied. Yes, so many people have unrecognised food allergy, with years or decades of symptoms. We work to uncover and manage these problems at the Childrens Clinic | Allergy Centre in Christchurch.
Worse, every day we see mothers who are working extremely hard to care for their children, only to be told that their “lack of good mothering skills” is the reason for their child’s problems. The mothers are blamed for causing their children harm, whilst the children are often labeled as spoilt or naughty.
But the truth is that these babies and children are in pain or very uncomfortable. They might have untreated gastric reflux, or severe eczema that is caused by a food allergy, or behaviour disturbances that are triggered by food intolerances.
ALL OF THESE CHILDREN NEED FULL ALLERGY ASSESSMENT!
Again, thanks Claire for writing.
Dr Rodney Ford
The medical evidence, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt, shows that food allergy and eczema are strongly linked. However, this is the complete opposite to what most dermatologists will tell you. Why is this so? I don’t know.
For example, Kartina says:
“My son’s ex dermatologist clearly hasn’t read anything that’s ever been written! Was told straight up food allergies and eczema have nothing to do with each other. Funny, once we found what he was allergic to and removed it, his eczema is nearly but all gone! His incompetence is why we will NOT be returning to his practice.”
Sadly, at The Children Centre, we hear this sort of comment everyday. However, it is our experience that most (80%) children with eczema do have food allergy triggers. Find these troublesome foods and you have found a solution. Most of the eczema children in our clinic get hugely better when we pay attention to food allergy.
Consequently, we test all children with eczema for food allergy.
Will be writing a whole section on this topic shortly.
We see lots of mothers who are trying to work out when and how to wean their child from the breast onto a baby formula.
They want to know: When? What? Why?
What milk formula should I give my baby?
We can help you.
What is next-best to breast milk?
The “next-best” alternative to breast milk is “artificial” or “formula” feeding. Formula feeding is not equivalent to breast feeding. A formula is a combination of food components that are manufactured to be as close as possible to the food value of breast milk. These formulas do not have some of the biological advantages of breast milk and will never capture the depth of breast feeding. But they are an excellent choice when weaning – do not go to straight cow’s milk.
What are the special formula choices?
I have written this information up on the Formula menu tag – take a look.
This query came today:
“I am in Christchurch and my GP says there is no allergy testing available anymore in Christchurch. Is this true?”
Reply: Well, it depends what you mean by allergy testing.
Skin prick testing for allergies: This is available at Canterbury Health Laboratories (CHL), at the hospital. Needs a GP referral. Wait time about 6 months I am told.
The private labs (MedLab and Southern Community Lab) are not offering this service now, following earthquake.
We do skin-prick tests at the Childrens Clinic as part of your paediatric consultation (private).
RAST blood testing for allergies: This is available at all the labs. Needs a GP blood request.
We organise RAST tests at the Childrens Clinic if this is indicated.
Waiting times: We can usually see patients within a week or two.
Just seen Emily in The Childrens Clinic, Christchurch. She is one-year-old and had eczema and reflux disease.
However, a few months ago she saw her local pediatrician who said “I don’t believe in reflux!” Also he said “I don’t believe in doing skin prick tests – they are useless!”
But when I first saw Emily it was clear to me that she had cow’s milk allergy. She went dairy-free: her reflux disappeared and her skin cleared up – a great result.
And still, whenever she eats any dairy foods, her eczema flares up again. She also vomits. Yes, she gets sick with milk.
Diagnosis: How did the diagnosis get made? We did skin prick tests, she had a positive reaction to milk. She got better off milk. Simple.
I am perplexed that my colleague remains skeptical about food allergy (for over a decade), this is despite Emily clearly getting completely better when milk was eliminated from her diet. The medical literature shows that between 2-3% (up to 1-in-25) children have food allergy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12487202
It is common.
It is fully documented in the medical literature.
It can be readily diagnosed.
So, why not take this serious disease seriously?
A lot of children would benefit.
Dr Rodney Ford
Paediatrician, The Childrens Clinic | Allergy Centre, Christchurch.
Getting children healthy again
We have just seen Melody with troublesome eczema – breastfed.
Her mum writes: “After nearly 3 months of issues with our 3 month old I finally feel like I can relax about her. Just knowing what she is allergic to – e.g. causing her skin & growth issues – has given me SO much peace of mind! I’m so grateful for the service you have given us! I’m pleased that we made the decision to come to you and get the testing done, despite the cost. We don’t have insurance so for us it was a big investment, but we are happy we made it. Seeing the wait for the hospital is so long at the moment I can’t imagine what our lives would have been like had we not come to you now.”
“And I’m extra grateful that you took the time to call me back last night and that you provided me with a prescription to get Melody’s infection sorted. I feel like we are in such great hands. I’ve already recommended you to a friend and of course we are telling everyone where we took Melody. Thank you SO MUCH!”
Our reply: “Thanks for your kind words – yes we do care for our children – that is what life is all about – giving/caring/living. We encourage others to get their eczema children tested for food allergy.” We say “don’t guess – test!” RF
Food can make us well … or can make us sick. The right food matters.