Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strict Elimination Diets

Well first can I say, initially elimination diets suck. I think the first month was the hardest and after that it just becomes the norm. I missed milk of all things and then ice cream which I didnt really eat beforehand.

Baby B (now Toddler B ;-) didnt know any difference as he didnt have anything to compare it to. I have to say though that there were and are times that I feel like Martha Stewart LOL. Especially when some mornings I'm baking bread, making stock from scratch, baking muffins / cookies and trying to feed a toddler.

But we saw an allergy dietician who was kind of helpful but not. So using guidelines we found our own menu of things to eat. I love experimenting in the kitchen now and working on recipes that Toddler B can eat.

The two most helpful books have been The Friendly Food Cookbook by the Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Unit and the Failsafe books by Sue Dengate. Without these, life would have been a lot harder to start with.

The Second 12 months - Finally some answers

So began the wait to see an allergist. In some states of Australia, the waiting times to see an allergist are 6 - 12 months for public or 3 -6 months for private allergists. We waited to 3 months to see a private allergist.

Baby B was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and salicylates. We were put onto an elimination diet and given some elemental formula to try. We also were linked in with another paed gastro who worked with nutrition and children with allergies.

Baby B has no anaphylaxis to the things he is allergic to, but instead has a gastrointestinal response. This can and has resulted in bleeding for him from his stomach and bowels.

Unluckily for us, Baby B is also allergic to all elemental formulas. This required me to continue breastfeeding until he was over 2 years of age as there was nothing else to replace it. So both Baby B and I went onto the strict elimination diet together. Mr B had variations of this as it was too complicated to cook multiple meals :-)

Interestingly the thing that was affecting his sleep were natural foods containing salicylates. We removed things like apple, avocado, corn - many things you introduce baby to with solids and his sleep improved dramatically. Down from waking 15 times a night to 3 or 4 times a night.

The dramas in the second year were 2 x gastroscopies to check for damage to his oesophagus and gut. The paed gastro told us that reflux is a common allergic response to children with allergies. 

The First 12 months - in blindness

We spent the first 12 months of Baby B's life trying to find a diagnosis for his behaviour.

He spent so many hours of the day and night screaming, had horrendous silent reflux, demand fed every 2 hours over a 24 hour period, had eczema on his face, eyebrows and in his ears, he smelt like vomit all the time.

I spoke to so many people. A day stay at a sleep school when he was 14 weeks old only told me he had the worst reflux they had ever seen. And I was sent on my way with "Good luck with that!!"

By 5 months I had worked out it was reflux, managed to get in to see a paed gastro and he was finally put on reflux medication. I wish I could say this was the end of it, but it wasnt. While his reflux improved nothing else did. Most doctors put me down as a hypochondriac mother but I knew something was wrong with my child.

Closer to 12 months, things were getting bad. Baby B woke 15 times a night, EVERY night and slept for only 1 period of 45 mins during the day. I was shattered and had to return to work as well.

I again sought the help of a private sleep specialist. She came and took one look at him during the night and told me outright that "There is no way possible this is a sleep problem". She told me she thought it was food allergies and so we began another pathway.

Allergy Child - How It All Began

Our journey with a child with food allergies began when I was pregnant with Baby B.

From 27 weeks onward I was hit with three urinary tract infections, two of which went on to be bladder infections. This involved 3 rounds of antibiotics. At 30.5 weeks I went into premature labour, but with more medication and completed bed rest, I kept Baby B in utero until he was 40 weeks.

Two weeks after his birth, Baby B and I were back in the hospital as I was suffering from mastitis. 4 days of IV antibiotics and I was sent home. I breastfed Baby B through all of this.

Why is this the start of our allergy journey? Knowing what we do now, our docs believe it was this massive exposure to antibiotics in utero and in his first weeks of life that stripped Baby B's gastrointestinal tract and began the development of his allergies.