Surviving Toddler Allergy Testing

Well, we did it! David survived his marathon of allergy testing today. I was so proud of my 20-month-old baby boy. He did so well through all of it! Here’s some background:

David and Audrey were exclusively breastfed from birth until about 4-5 months old. I got sick around this time with a stomach bug, and my supply seriously dwindled, so we started supplementing with formula once every few days, only as needed. We found that this did a number on A & D’s stomachs when we didn’t have a regular routine with the formula, so after a few months, we did one bottle of formula a day, while still breastfeeding the rest of the time. We also introduced solid foods at 4 months old, per the suggestion of our pediatrician.

Around this time, we also started to see some rough skin patches on David. It wasn’t a lot, but it definitely was noticeable. We treated it with lotion, and we kept it contained, but it didn’t totally go away.

Last fall (about a year old), we noticed that David was scratching his ankles to the point of bleeding, and so we used lots and lots of creams, lotions, and even some steroid cream to treat it. It would go away temporarily, but it never fully healed.

Fast forward to this summer (about 18 months old). We started seeing that rough skin in more places along his legs, especially the ankles, back of his knees, and inside his elbows. We wondered if it was heat rash, but our pediatrician thought it was just eczema (keep it moist with lotions and the rest).

Then, just about a week ago, his legs erupted and were completely covered in red, raw, irritated inflammation. It was on his back and stomach too. He itched everywhere. He scratched so hard on his chest that he has a scar along his sternum. When it only seemed to be getting worse over the weekend, we went back to the doctor. When the pediatrician took one look at him, she recommended that we get allergy testing.

That was Monday. I was able to get an appointment for two days later… today.

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So, this morning at 7 AM, David and I left for our 7:15 appointment (Ok, well, if I’m going to be real, we left at 7:10 and got there at 7:20). This would be the longest amount of time that David and Audrey have ever been separated. I was actually more worried about that than the testing itself.

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Once we got there and got David’s height (33 inches) and weight (26 lbs), we met with the allergist, a sweet woman who used to be a pediatrician (great bedside manner). Side note: David fell in love and cried when she left the room. In talking to her, we came up with the list of what we would test (55 different possibilities). We gathered our gear and went to the testing room, where I took his shirt off and put on a baby gown with the Looney Toon characters.


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David was not a fan, and we ended up letting him go shirtless.

Once they had prepped the test, they came in and drew on his back. I had the iPad going with The Muppets, so he only squirmed from the tickle of the pen once.

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Then, when we were ready to begin, I sat on the table, he sat in my lap facing me, and we had two helpers: 1 on each side holding an arm and leg each. I have never seen someone poke someone so fast. Over 55 “scratches” on the back in under 2 minutes.

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David cried, but he didn’t thrash his head around or move at all. He was such a trooper. And when it was over, we had to wait for 20 minutes. My instructions were to make sure he didn’t touch or scratch his back.

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So we watched The Muppets. And then the nurse brought in a popsicle for David (his first since all the many I had while I was pregnant with him). He LOVED it, and we quickly got the second half. Even if it was loaded with sugar, he deserved such a treat.

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He scratched his chest constantly, but I figured it was better that he do that than try to scratch his back.

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After 5 minutes

 

Then after 20 minutes, we got the results. The baseline was a good strong measurement, so they were happy that the results would be accurate.

David is allergic to watermelon and mushroom (two plusses on the sheet).

He also shows signs of being allergic to coconut, turkey, peanuts, soybeans, grass mix, and weed mix.

When we finally were able to meet with the doctor again, she said, “Well I hope that this gives you some answers.” But it didn’t. I felt just as stuck. I mean, out of that list, he hasn’t eaten any of that in the past couple weeks. At least, not that I thought. I was convinced that it would be milk (he has really upped his milk and yogurt intake in the last month).

Then, as we talked, she explained that soy is in so much food. Even just a slight irritation to it could trigger something like what we are seeing with David. So it’s entirely possible that the soy did the trick. Also, the grass and weed mixes could come into play (we didn’t test all of the environmental allergens, as we wanted to focus on the food and dog/cat). Then, I had been using a homemade lotion with coconut oil in it. Typically, we should be able to use something topically if he is allergic to it (since these showed up as minor allergies), but with that on top of a reaction already, it probably did worsen everything.

So now comes the elimination. For the next 10 days, we don’t eat any of those. We have a special lotion and cream. He will have a steroid for the worst skin spots. He will be on an allergy medication. Honestly, it’s everything my crunchy and natural-mindedness is against. But I also know that we need to figure this out. So we will follow this advice, try it out, and then we can go from there once we see if this helps. After 10 days of elimination, we will have 4 days of a binge (or as much as we can have a picky toddler binge on certain foods).

After I got home, we looked through the pantry. We had armful after armful of food that contained soy. The bread that he eats every day (and has recently started craving) has soy in it. Two brands of his favorite crackers. The mac and cheese that he gobbles up. It started making sense. FINALLY I felt like we have figured it out.

So now we just wait and see. And thankfully Cheerios are still on the “can have” list.

Thank you so much to ALL of our friends and family who have offered supports and love and thoughts. I can’t tell you how much it means to us. We have been so blessed to have such healthy children, and this is truly the first “big” thing that we’ve had to go through. Thankfully, I’ve been through allergy testing, so I knew what to expect, and David handled it like a champ. He was so happy and cute and talkative and easy-going. He loved his mommy-David morning, despite the 2 minutes of pain. I was so proud of my big “baby boy.”

And just to see how quickly he bounced back, here is a video of him after we got back home.

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Comments

  1. Wow! Poor thing. You’re a strong and wonderful mama for tackling this all and helping your little guy to figure out what was going on. Good for you! Hoping that it all looks up from here on out. 🙂

  2. Congratulations on getting past this big and unfortunate milestone. Good job to David and Mom! I hope good solid answers are forthcoming — QUICKLY. And can I just say… WHOONU? A) That soy is in so many foods that you don’t think are “soy foods” and B) about allergies to watermelon. Really???? I have never heard of allergies to watermelon. But we can all be walking around with allergies to one thing or another and unless something major happens to our skin or throat, we would likely just ignore some minor nuisance and never associate it with a food allergy. Bummer about coconut. It is such a great carrier to EO’s. Fortunately you have many others you can use instead. Hello grape seed oil!

  3. Dory, I went through this as a kid, but honestly I never considered my mother’s experience of it before now. I hope that now that you have the knowledge, the elimination diet, well, eliminates David’s discomfort. I think that people are so much more knowledgeable about allergies now than they were 35 years ago. When I was little, no one in my extended family believed in allergies, so they made a point of sneaking me allergens, which led to awful bouts of eczema and asthma.

    You’re already so thoughtful about what your kids eat, it shouldn’t be too much more trouble to read the ingredients on things and start to understand the codewords for soy. And yay! No milk allergies! Unlike me, David can grow up with pizza and mac n cheese!

  4. So glad that you guys are finding some answers and opportunities to eliminate the allergens! Sad to hear he’s allergic to watermelon! I’ve never heard of that one before, but couldn’t imagine it. I think I could eat a whole watermelon in one sitting…the mini ones! Hoping David’s doing well with his elimination period!

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