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Diligence

Posted Jan 27 2009 4:26pm
We got some good news today--our son (who just turned 7 last week!) got the results of his food allergy tests. He takes this blood test, the CAPRAST, every year, and has since he was 3.

Every year, his overall numbers (IgE--the body's immune response to allergens) and individual numbers to certain foods, have come down, and today was no exception.

He still has an abnormally high IgE--normal is around 220. His is 2100. But it USED to be 5000. With his history of asthma, eczema (which has pretty much vanished, but left keratosis behind, little bumpy rash), and environmental allergies, his IgE may always be high (mine is elevated as well, but nowhere near his).

The allergy scale is like this:
0--no allergy
1,2--mild, moderate allergy
3-6--extremely allergic to severe, life-threatening allergy

When he was first tested, almost everything was in the 4-6 range, thus the reason we carry an epipen around with him everywhere. We've never had to use it, though he did have a severe allergic reaction in 2007 that required a trip to the ER.

By using a complete food elimination diet--absolutely keeping all of his allergens out of his diet--there is a good chance he'll outgrow his allergies, which consist of dairy, eggs, nuts, & shellfish. There is no cure for food allergies as of yet. Not only do we have to make sure he doesn't eat those items, we have to make sure that any food doesn't contain traces of them, such as food manufactured/cooked on shared equipment.

Ready for this? Lobster was a ONE, and peanuts was a TWO. OMG. His highest score is a 3. Now, his allergist, whom we adore, recommends that he never has nuts, even if his score is a zero. The body can go in and out of allergy to them, doctors aren't quite sure why. But knowing he'd be safe if he accidentally ingested something with nuts.....it would be a dream come true.

In a year or so, if the numbers keep coming down, he'll have a scratch test to those items, and then an oral challenge (where you feed them small amounts of the food in the doctor's office with emergency equipment nearby).

His doctor commented it must be hard keeping him on this diet, and no, it really isn't anymore. It's more about diligence in reading labels and creativity in substitutions. He can't share in a classmate's birthday cake, but he doesn't mind because he eats some oreos. Our favorite pizza place makes a special dairy free pizza just for him. And thanks to many parents in the same situation, such as Country singer Trace Adkins, whose daughter (same age as our son) has severe food allergies, they helped pass a law requiring the top allergens be listed plainly on food labels.

He still has a way to go, but it was definitely a day to celebrate :)
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