Cake crumbs and other dangers

I take my baby to a few activities/classes, one we go to has some downtime for drinks and a biscuit while the children play for 10 minutes.
This particular week however somebody brought a proper cake in, with lashings of buttercream icing and almonds on top. Eeek. Cue watching my toddling egg and dairy allergic 16 month old like a hawk, who is eyeing up said cake being eaten by the other parents and making puppy dog eyes in begging mode. Usually the food thing is manageable as the parents are just eating a biscuit which hardly makes a mess and disappears pretty quickly. Unfortunately the slices of cake handed out were huge triangles on napkins and it was the type which fall apart and sprays crumbs everywhere once you bite into it. A couple of toddlers were also helping themselves which created a crumb shower in their vicinity.
This is the most difficult thing for both of us when we are out. My daughter is at the stage of either: a) wanting to eat anything off the floor that can fit in her mouth or b) wanting to eat anything that anyone else is eating. Both are not ideal and can be a pain but when you have and allergic child – well, it’s ten times more stressful. We were doing pretty well until just at the end when I was writing a cheque out for the teacher, the room was half empty but the floor was covered in crumbs; out of the corner of my eye I spotted her hand put something into her mouth. “No!” I yelped, jumped up and rushed over. After getting her mouth to open I fished out a piece of cake crumb. At least she hadn’t ingested it otherwise it would have made her come out in hives. A calmer response would have been more desirable as the teacher was slightly alarmed, but I was just relieved I stopped her in time.
This is one of the reasons why I don’t go to playgroups, there’s too much risk of being exposed to allergens and my daughter can’t make the distinction between what is safe and what is not. I wonder whether we are missing out, but then I think the stress is just not worth it.

Allergy Diagnosis

I’ve been lucky enough to have found GPs who have listened and assisted in getting my children’s allergy diagnosed relatively quickly. I’ve heard anecdotes from many others who have not been so lucky and their GPs seem to think it unnecessary to refer for allergy testing.

If you find the GP you have seen is not listening are there others at the practice you could get a second opinion from? I found some more resistant than others to treatment, some just didn’t know about allergies so it helped to research the information myself and go in ready to tell them what I needed, eventually getting to know which doctor was the most sympathetic. 7 years ago when we were first starting out there wasn’t that much information about but these days there is a lot more on the web given that the incidence of allergies is increasing,

If you find that your GP is still refusing to do anything the NICE guidelines is a good place to check that they are doing everything they can do diagnose your child’s allergy. If they are not, print it out, go back waving it at your GP telling them they have to fulfil their duty of care. Pester them as much as you can, they will eventually get the message!

Useful websites:

Is My Baby Allergic?

When my first daughter was 6 weeks old she started to develop eczema on her face which over the next few weeks would gradually get worse and spread all over her body. When she was teething and dribbling she constantly had a red patches on her cheeks and around her mouth; her skin was incredibly dry and her eczema would regularly flare up which seemed to happen randomly. We took her back and forth to the GP and after trial and error with many different kinds of emollients we eventually found a regime that worked for her using Doublebase and Epaderm, though her skin was so dry I had to apply her creams every two hours. We always had to dress her with long sleeves because the instant her arms were exposed she would scratch; it was worst at bedtime and her sleep was disturbed at night with scratching so she would often wake, I would find blood on her bedsheets from the scratching which was absolutely heartbreaking.

At 6 months her eczema was still severe and even though we were treating her with steroids it was not improving. Her cheeks would be red raw and she developed thread veins. I would regularly get comments on her skin and lectured by well meaning individuals on remedies to try (which was really, really annoying – I have tried everything Thank You very much). At this point I was still breastfeeding but looking at returning to work and started to think about formula feeding, so one day I gave her a couple of ounces of formula milk to try. She drank it all up: 10 minutes later she started scratching her face and didn’t stop, her face went red and blotchy all over and she started to bleed as she scratched, hives started to cover her body. I was absolutely terrified; realising she was having an allergic reaction we thankfully had some Piriton at home as the GP had prescribed some for her when her sleep was very bad. She calmed down after the medicine; I however, cried all afternoon. I had found out she was allergic to dairy.

All this had happened just before our appointment with the dermatologist for our baby’s eczema. We saw a lovely consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital from the Children’s Dermatology department, who agreed that she had a milk allergy and prescribed Neocate (a hypoallergenic formula) straight away and arranged a referral to the Childrens Allergy department. She also prescribed a unique preparation of propaderm (a very potent steroid) diluted in soft white paraffin to be applied to her skin – which was obtained only from the hospital. I have to say this was the turning point for us – she started to itch less when she started drinking Neocate and within a few weeks her eczema began to improve. It took another 3 years for it to very gradually, get properly under control using various forms of treatments.

At 10 months we eventually got to attend the Children’s Allergy Clinic at St Thomas’s, where they confirmed an allergy to egg, dairy, tree nuts and fish (I have to say the team are fantastic here and are one of the leading research teams in the field of allergy, I cannot compliment them enough). This was 7 years ago and it’s been a learning curve for us, and fortunately more people are becoming aware of allergies.

When I had my second baby and she started to develop eczema in the same way I suspected that she too was allergic, so I went straight to the doctor and I was right – she is currently allergic to egg and dairy. My two have also developed further allergies to chicken(!) and various types of fruit. Having said that it’s much easier to manage second time around and less daunting.