Like many people, I didn't realize how many people were affected by food allergies until it touched my own family. My oldest daughter, Meredith, was diagnosed with milk and egg allergies at 6 months of age. Until that time, I had never even heard of a milk allergy. Like most people, I'd heard of peanut and shellfish allergies, and knew they could be life threatening, but I never imagined that milk and eggs could prove to be just as dangerous for some people.
For the first 6 months of Meredith's life, I breastfed her. As I began to wean her, I started supplementing with a dairy-based formula once or twice a day. For the first two weeks, Meredith did just fine, but then one day, she broke out in hives from head to toe and started vomiting. Since we had been supplementing with formula for two weeks by this time, I didn't make the connection that this could be a food related allergic reaction. The situation was further complicated by the fact that she had just started an antibiotic for an ear infection. Naturally, I assumed she was having a drug reaction and called the pediatrician for a change in prescription. The next day, she had another reaction after getting a dose of her new medication, and a small amount of diary formula. I called the doctor again. Luckily, we have a very good pediatrician, and he realized that the odds of Meredith being allergic to a second antibiotic were very unlikely. He immediately quizzed me about new foods Meredith had been introduced to within the last month. After explaining to the doctor that the only thing she's had new was a couple of jarred baby bananas, and dairy formula, the doctor concluded that it was probably a food allergy and advised me to stop weaning Meredith until after she visited an allergist.
Being woefully uninformed about food allergies at the time, I was dumbfounded at the notion that a food allergy could take a couple of weeks to present itself. After meeting with the allergist and having Meredith's dairy allergy confirmed, and even more shocking, an egg allergy, too, the doctor proceeded to explain to me that the human body can reject something at any point in time of your life. In some cases, a person may have consumed a food for years, and then all of a sudden, their body will develop an allergy to it. This was certainly news to me, and it explained why I hadn't picked up on the fact that Meredith was having an allergic reaction to her dairy formula.
My experiences with Meredith helped to drive home the concept that parents should take the introduction of new foods for their baby very slowly. If you're exposing your child to lots of different foods at a time, and they have an allergic reaction, it will make it even more difficult to discern which one was the problem food, and it could result in another reaction. As my doctors recommended to me, it's best to introduce only one new thing at a time, and wait until the child has consumed the item several times before introducing a new food.
Published On: May 08, 2008