Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maternal Diet and Food Allergies - My Thoughts

I'm not a doctor, scientific researcher, nutritionist, etc., so the following is completely speculative.  Based on my personal experience, my thinking aligns with the theory that what a woman eats during pregnancy and/or during breastfeeding plays a part in the food allergies that her child develops, IF her child was going to develop a food allergy in the first place.

So much focus is put on peanut allergies, because of their prevalence, and I think it's hard to nail that down, since so many people ate nuts while pregnant and some kids ended up with nut allergies and some didn't.

However, let's take a look at my own personal case daughter.  She has one particular severe allergy, that is not very common.  She is highly allergic to flax seed.  How many people do you know with a severe flax seed allergy?  Do you even know anyone with a flax seed allergy?  Maybe if you're in the food allergy circles you do, but I don't know anyone else around me, locally, who has an allergy to flax seed, other than my daughter.  How did she get so "lucky"?

Hmm, well, when I was pregnant, I ate Voortman's Flaxseed Oatmeal Cookies at least once a day, every single day, for my entire pregnancy.  I ate them even before I got pregnant.  It was my "go to" snack.  I kept them in a cookie jar on the counter and it was an easy thing to grab.  I ate them like they were going out of style, and they actually did...My local store stopped carrying them when my daughter was a few months old and I had to stop eating them and I was bummed.  So, I had also been eating them while I was nursing.  (I only made it to about 4 1/2 months of nursing.)  The ingredients in the cookies were wheat flour, flax seeds, ground flax seeds, eggs, etc.  So it basically had double flax seed.

I am a creature of habit and tend to eat the same thing every day for long stretches of time.  Back then, I was eating a Jimmy Dean D-Lights breakfast croissant, but I would take out the turkey sausage, so it was just cheese and egg white.  I ate lots of cheese back then.  I also ate some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I was pregnant, which I never wanted any other time.

So, I was eating peanuts, cheese, eggs, and flax seed by the pound...What are my daughter's top allergens?  Peanuts, milk, eggs and flax seed!  (By the way, I get so irritated that they keep adding flax seed to everything for "Omega-3" purposes.  Use hemp seed, it's better!  Anyway, I digress...)

I think with the peanuts, milk and eggs, it's easy for people to dismiss the maternal diet connection because they say "everyone eats those things", but not everyone eats tons of flaxseed and not everyone's child ends up with a severe allergy to flax seed.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I believe this is for children who were "going to develop a food allergy in the first place".  How can you know if that will be the case for your child?  Well, you certainly can't know for sure, but I found an article on, that concisely summarizes what I am always telling people about the predisposing factors for a potentially food-allergic child:

So, given what I've experienced, I'm still not sure what one should do, if they suspect their future child is "at risk" for food allergies.  I joked with a friend, the other day, that perhaps they should just eat some rare food, say, rutabagas, that they don't really like, and hardly ever encounter, so their child would end up allergic to that, and then they could easily avoid that down the road.

I know that's not a realistic solution, however, but I was just trying to bring a little levity to the situation, as I often do.  There are so many recommendations, and we may never know for sure which one is the "right" one, and I really don't think there is such a thing, since every "body" is different, but I just wanted to share my experience and see if it triggered any light bulbs for anyone else, who might have more insights.

I'd also like to share this other helpful article I found on, about feeding an at-risk infant:

I wish I had this article back when my daughter was born...That, and the knowledge I have now about food allergies!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs - Please Vote!

Good morning! Amazing & Atopic has been nominated, as one of the Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs for 2012 on Circle of Moms!  I remember when I was nominated, last year.  I was so humbled and incredulous, being listed next to so many great bloggers, given that I was just starting out.  I still feel like a "newbie" in this blogging world, but being on this list helps me further my cause - sharing information with others, letting them know that they are not alone...telling them the things that nobody ever told me...I want to continue to share what I learn, as I go along, with as many people as I can, to hopefully save others from making the mistakes I have made, sharing stories and the occasional recipe, or cool find along the way.


So, if you'd like my blog, or would like to help me put my blog in front of more people, please click on the badge above and vote for me!  I am grateful for every click!

Please note that you can vote once per day, through October 17th and daily votes are crucial and much appreciated.  ♥ 

While you're there, you will see a list of some wonderful blogs, with a wealth of information for your perusal! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anaphylaxis Posing as Asthma

In the 2011 Special Edition of Allergy & Asthma Today by the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, there was an article titled, "When Anaphylaxis Looks Like Asthma".  The article shared the heart-breaking stories of Sabrina Shannon and Emily Vonder Meulen, who died after suffering what appeared to be severe asthma attacks, yet turned out to be anaphylactic reactions to accidental food allergen exposures.

As I wrote in one of my previous posts, my daughter had an anaphylactic reaction, after eating a few corn muffins that I made with flax seed in it (I was unaware of her severe flax allergy at the time), when she was 3 weeks shy of her second birthday.  The thing is, I had no idea that what was what was happening to her.  We are so incredibly lucky that she survived the reaction, and I wanted to take the time to go over the events of that incident, as a learning experience for others.

I was about 5 months into life as a "food allergy mom", getting used to baking with substitutes and such, and trying out new recipes.  Since my daughter was highly allergic to egg, I was trying out one of the options, which was flax seed.  I had tried it once before, in a cupcake and it made the cupcake nice and fluffy.  I thought it made my daughter a little itchy, but I wasn't entirely sure, so we were going to give it another try in a batch of corn muffins.  My daughter thought they were delicious and gobbled down a few mini-muffins.

A little while later, she threw up her corn muffins all over me.  (Thanks, as always, to Facebook, for helping me keep track of the was my status update from that moment: "Well, I think it's safe to say that Morgan's sick...she threw up copious amounts of corn muffins, all over me...I think giving birth shut off my gag-reflex, because it didn't faze me one bit...")  That was at around 6:30 p.m.  By around 8:30 p.m. I was posting on Facebook that she was all smiles.

Then, there's another post from me around 11:00 p.m. about some random news article, which reminded me that I was up, messing around on the computer.  That's when the memories came back to me...

We have (and still use) a baby monitor and even without it, I could hear with my "Mommy ears" the most unsettling noise, coming from my daughter's room.  I could hear an odd sound in her breathing.  She was making this "kuh" sound.  It reminded me of the sound my mother would make (a heavy smoker and NOT the sound I wanted to hear from my precious baby).  She sounded like she was having a little trouble breathing, so I went in to check on her.  I got my husband up and we both went in there and turned on the lights.

She was sleepy, but usually if I had come in there, she would have wanted to talk to me and would have been more alert (she has never been much of a "sleep through the night" kind of child and would love any excuse to get up).  She was a little wheezy and we were certainly nervous.  We were still learning about how to manage her asthma and I thought she was coming down with something, like a virus.  My husband and I were talking it over, like should we turn on the hot shower, should we do a breathing treatment, etc.  I decided to go get her puffer-spacer and do a breathing treatment and we did the warm shower thing, thinking it was an asthma flare.  That helped only marginally, but we thought it was all we could do.  She seemed stuffy, as well, so I decided to hold her upright in the glider, because there was no way I was going to put her back down in the crib.  

I took her to the changing table to see if she needed a fresh diaper and to let her cool off a little, because she seemed warm.  When I opened her pajamas, her chest was sucking slightly inward and I told my husband that didn't look right and it looked like she was working hard to breathe.  When we offered her the (non-dairy) milk bottle (her favorite thing in the world) she could barely hold it up to her mouth and we knew something was wrong.

I called the nurse line and this was her advice: "If the child is wheezing, flaring nostrils, labored breathing, rapid shallow breaths, but no blue lips, then go to the ER.  If their lips turn blue and/or there's wheezing that can be heard across the room - dial 911!"

We took her to the ER and as you might have read in the other post, she was diagnosed with an ear infection and bronchitis, but I now know it was an anaphylactic reaction to the flax seed.  The "dipping in" that her chest was doing was "retracting".  (For an excellent article, check out: How to Detect Breathing Problems in Children)  That can be very dangerous, especially for a child with asthma and one who is experiencing an allergic reaction.  Those are the images that stick in my mind.  I was just standing there, looking at her chest suck inward, perplexed, not knowing what to do.  The problem was, we were looking at this from purely a breathing/asthma perspective and forgetting that we are assessing an allergic child, here.  We were missing the bigger picture.  What about the fact that she had eaten muffins, then thrown up, and was now progressing to breathing issues?  Instead of missing the "forest for the trees", we couldn't see the "anaphylaxis for the asthma".  Luckily for us, we got her to the hospital, and it didn't escalate very rapidly, and she was OK.

In the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post, their advice is, "If patients with a food allergy and asthma have a sudden onset of severe asthma symptoms following food ingestion, they should presume that they had an accidental ingestion of their food allergen and immediately use their epinephrine."

Now, we didn't know she was allergic to flax at the time, but that really should not have mattered, because the signs of a reaction were there (vomiting, then breathing difficulties), and that is what would have happened with an accidental exposure, or in her case, exposure to an undiagnosed allergen.  I had no reason to expect a reaction from those muffins, yet there it was, happening in front of me.  We have to learn to react to what is happening in front of us, and not what we expect (or don't expect) to happen.  The problem is, we're not born knowing what to look for, so that's why I'm sharing this information, so hopefully we can all learn.  My daughter's experience was not as clear-cut as the examples in the AANMA article, but I still wanted to share the story and the information, because it's something of which we must be acutely aware, for those of us with children with food allergies AND asthma.

On FAAN's Food Allergy Action Plan, it reads: 
"*Antihistamines & inhalers/bronchodilators are not to be depended upon to treat a severe reaction (anaphylaxis). USE EPINEPHRINE."  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Frozen Soy Yogurt

Pardon me if you came here looking for an actual recipe, but this post is literally about frozen soy yogurt. :)

A few friends of mine clued me into the gem of a store T.J. Maxx, and apparently, they have this little section with kitchen odds and ends.  I went to check it out, and found this adorable set of ice cream pop molds, in the shape of ice cream cones.  I had been filling up other silicone pop molds with soy yogurt, for my daughter, but they were so messy, because she had to wait until they melted a little bit to be able to move the frozen yogurt up the container, and then it would be a pretty sticky situation.

With these, there is a wide base to catch the drips and it just thrills her that it looks like she is eating a real ice cream cone.  She has seen kids on cartoons eating ice cream cones and has told me before, "Mommy, I've never eaten an ice cream cone, before."  So, this made us both pretty happy.

Now, I will say that all I do is get a small spoon and fill up the top part with vanilla soy yogurt, and my husband thinks that the freezing process makes it taste pretty strong once it's frozen, but my daughter does not seem to care one bit.  If the taste seems too strong for you, you can always get one of the frozen yogurt recipes that involves adding additional sugar, or perhaps you can use a berry flavor, etc.  Also, if your child can tolerate other ingredients, you can always whip up another recipe and throw that in there, as well.  However, if your child's diet is highly restricted, like my daughter's, you'll be happy to know that it works with the yogurt, straight from the cup, and it would probably even work with rice yogurt. I even tried it out with fruit juice and it works great. : )  I love the handle, and how it catches the drips in the well at the bottom and my daughter loves her frozen treats, so it's a win-win!

The only drawback is finding these things!  They are made by Tovolo and you can go to their website and find a store near you, but it's not the kind of item that will be at every Target or Wal-Mart.  I hope you can find one, though, if you want one, because I think they are really nifty. : )