Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Food Allergies in Kids Serious Danger

For those of you who read my blog regularly and/or subscribe to my newsletter, you know I've done a little research on food allergies in kids. I've suspected that my daughter might be allergic to soy but most doctors recommend waiting until age 3 before testing kids. Well, today we accidentally discovered that my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts. Ugh.

For a small snack, I gave my 21 month old two Saltine crackers with peanut butter on them. She touched the peanut butter and didn't like the way it felt. Instead, she asked for grapes and tried to get the peanut butter off her hands. Before my wonderful housekeeper or I could wash her hands, Little K had already spread it to her face and into one of her eyes. In less than 5 minutes, my daughter had blisters on her face & hands, was scratching her throat, crying and pulling at her ears. Based on my previous talks with Robyn O'Brien of AllergyKids, I knew immediately what was happening and called the pediatrician. (I should have a frequently flyer program there!) The nurse on the phone said to take my child immediately to the ER.

Thank God the staff at Northwest Memorial Hermann recognized the potential seriousness of a peanut allergy. As soon as I told the welcome desk staff what I suspected, they had us in an emergency room in less than 2 minutes. I'm not exagerating. My daughter's face just looked so horrible and my daughter buried herself deeply into my arms, whimpering. She knew something was wrong but, of course, couldn't understand what.

Luckily, her oxygen level was at 100 percent and her temperature was normal. The staff gave her some Benadryl and we watched the swelling and blisters disappear before our eyes... almost entirely. This all happened without my daughter actually eating a peanut or peanut butter. It only touched her skin! Imagine what could have happened if she had eaten the peanut butter. Thank you, God. Before being released from the hospital, the staff gave my daughter a steroid to help her lungs stay open through the night. She'll have an oral medication daily for 3 days and, of course, another trip to her pediatrician to discuss next steps. The remaining redness and swelling near her eye should disappear in the next day or so.

Peanut allergies can be fatal and are very common amongst children. An estimated 5 million American children have food allergies, according to AllergyKids. The Food Allergy Initiative says: "Dr. Scott Sicherer has documented that a food allergen, such as peanut, can be transferred through saliva to an allergic person through kissing, resulting in a reaction." Wow! I encourage all parents to learn about the most common foods that cause these reactions and know what the signs of a reaction are. Be on the safe side. It's just not worth looking at your child and not being able to help. Arm yourself and your children. You'll feel so much better & so will your family.

Until the next nap time...