Well, it happened: We had our first taste of food allergies. The culprit? Mayonnaise.
It happened the other night when my mom, my husband and I were sitting down to take Liz Johnson’s advice and enjoy BLTs with lovely farm-fresh late-summer tomatoes for dinner.
Of course, we didn’t make Pumpkin a BLT. But when she saw and smelled our dinners, she rejected her macaroni and cheese in her favorite way Ã¢â‚¬â€ by deliberately dropping the pasta off the side of her high chair.
I made her a slice of whole-wheat toast, and instead of slathering it with butter as usual, I spread a nice thick coating of mayo. No surprise, she loved it. She quickly gobbled up half a slice with greasy little fingers.
There were cute little gobs of mayo on her chin and just above her lip. I was happy to see her enjoying her toast so much. Then when I broke out the wet wipes and cleaned her off, I noticed the skin where the mayo had touched was red. I recognized the classic sign of a reaction.
She seemed just fine and wasn’t breathing heavily or breaking out in a rash, so I didn’t panic, but I put a call in to the pediatrician’s service to be safe. He called back in about five minutes and, after asking a few questions, told us to give her some Benadryl if the red spots didn’t go away in five or 10 minutes.
I washed her face and watched. After about 15 minutes, the red areas were back to normal.
I don’t know what triggered the reaction. It might have been the egg, a classic allergen, but Pumpkin has eaten scrambled eggs probably a dozen times without any reaction at all. It’s possible that it was another ingredient. I looked up the recipe at HellmannÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Web site, and saw that the Light Mayonnaise I served includes a wide array of ingredients not normally found in mayonnaise, including modified corn starch, sorbic acid, xanthan gum, phosphoric acid and artificial flavors.
I wouldn’t normally serve Pumpkin a “light” product, but I made the mayo toast on a whim. It’s ironic, because I go to some effort to ensure that all of the dairy she consumes Ã¢â‚¬â€ milk, butter, cheese and yogurt Ã¢â‚¬â€ is organic. (Then I go and give her bowdlerized mayonnaise and she has a reaction Ã¢â‚¬â€ Duh!)
I’ll probably wait at least a few months before I serve her mayonnaise again Ã¢â‚¬â€ and next time it will be real mayo.
I hope she’s not allergic to eggs. Although, even if she is, I was comforted to read that most children outgrow egg allergies by age 5.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 8 percent of children under age 6 experience food intolerances. About 2 percent to 4 percent have allergic reactions. Six foods cause 90 percent of the allergy reactions in kids: Milk, egg, peanuts, wheat, soy and tree nuts.
I found some good sources of food allergy information online from the Food Allergy Project, the Food Allergy Initiative, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic.
I also found an allergy blog you might want to check out: Allergy Alert Stuff lists recalls of foods and other news.
Parents of allergic kids might also want to visit AllergyKids.com. The site focuses on allergy awareness and has introduced a symbol that makes it easy to identify children with allergies on the playground, at parties or at school. The symbol is a light green stop sign with an exclamation point. The site sells stickers and other merchandise with the symbol (a pack of 100 stickers costs $9.99 and wristbands are $14.39 for 10).
This brush with food allergies puts me in awe of the moms and dads who must constantly police their kids’ diets to prevent contact with common foods like peanuts, eggs and wheat.
Does your child have a food allergy? How did you find out, and how are you coping?