This week is food allergy awareness week. Over the next five days, I’ll be handing over my blog to parents whose children suffer from allergies in a bid to raise awareness and eliminate any associated misconceptions.
Hello, my name is Sally and I am married to Paul. We have been married for 15 years and have three sons together. Beau aged 7 years, Rudy aged 3 years and Sonny aged 23 months. My Blog is a Lifestyle and Parenting Blog concerning all aspects of our family life together and can be found at The Happy Home with 3 Boys Blog.
1. Who suffers from allergies in your family, when were they diagnosed and what allergies do they have?
My youngest child, Sonny suffers from a CMPA. He was diagnosed when he was just 4 weeks old. I had been breastfeeding him and I thought things were going well. One day, however, Sonny could not be comforted at all and was literally screaming in pain. I didn’t know what was wrong with him. It was obvious that something quite serious was wrong however, as when I went to change his nappy I discovered that he had been passing blood.
2. How long was the process of diagnosis, tell us about your experience?
Our diagnosis for Sonny was very quick. We phoned our GP who advised us to take him straight to A and E. When we got there, we were rushed straight through onto a Children’s Ward where a consultant was summoned. The nurses took bloods and samples from Sonny for immediate testing. The consultant arrived with us quickly and said what he thought was to be the likely cause of Sonny’s pain and passing of blood (Sonny was still passing quite a lot of blood at this point). I was asked whether or not I was breastfeeding and when I confirmed that I was, I was advised that as Sonny’s reaction had been so severe that the Consultant felt that the best course of action would be for Sonny to be fed exclusively on a prescription only baby formula designed for those with a CMPA.
3. How do these allergies affect you and your families on a day to day basis?
As Sonny was diagnosed when he was so young, at first it was really quite simple as he was only having his prescription formula. Things became more complicated as Sonny got older and started eating solid foods. Not only were family mealtimes difficult as Sonny often couldn’t eat what everyone else was (there’s so much hidden dairy in foods), but also it was a real challenge with his older brothers. They didn’t understand the impact that leaving a biscuit laying around for example, which Sonny might then pick up and eat would have on him.
4. Have your child’s allergies impacted your travel, if so how?
We haven’t found Sonny’s allergies to be restrictive as such as far as travelling goes as we can always pack foods that are suitable for him. It can become tricky when eating out though, however, as a lot of restaurants and eateries still do not cater for allergy sufferers or if they do, then the choice can be extremely limited.
5. If your child is old enough, do they understand their allergies? If not, how do you plan to explain it to them in the future?
Sonny is not old enough to understand his allergy, hence why he will try and eat things that will cause him pain and upset his system.
As he gets older we will just tell him the truth that eating certain things will cause him to be in pain and have a bad tummy ache.
6. Do you feel that people are understanding of your child’s allergies? If not, why do you think this is?
On the whole I think that people are very understanding of Sonny’s allergy. The only thing I would say is that people often don’t initially understand what exactly having a CMPA allergy entails. For Instance at Christmas and especially Easter, people were buying Sonny chocolate sweets and obviously he couldn’t eat these.
7. Are there any resources or websites which you’ve found particularly helpful?
We went to see a dietitian a few months after Sonny’s initial diagnosis who gave us lots of useful information as to food substitutes to use in cooking for Sonny. We’ve also found that a lot of the large supermarkets now do a Free From section and they’ve really expanded their range of products so that we are now able to get items for Sonny such as Ice Cream, Chocolate and cakes and biscuits.
8. What advice would you give to any parent whose child has just been diagnosed with an allergy?
At first, it can really seem quite daunting and you are constantly reading food labels to see if they contain dairy products, but you soon become a bit of an expert at this and over time it becomes a lot easier. I also worried about Sonny feeling “left out” by not being able to have the same as his brothers such as chocolate, but we’ve overcome these hurdles by giving him things like dairy free chocolate.
It’s Food Allergy Awareness week from 13-19th May. Make sure you pop back for more Q&A’s!