Meet my youngest daughter Bayla. She was brought in to this world a little over 9 years ago, and she’s been full of spunk and sass ever since.
What you can’t tell from this picture is that my daughter has SEVERE food allergies. As in she will die if she eats certain foods that she is allergic to. This idea might be quite frightening to parents with “healthy” children, but it’s something that we live with on an every day basis.
Bayla was born after a completely healthy pregnancy. She was 9 pounds, and given a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, her days of being a healthy baby were numbered.
GRUMPY, ITCHY BABY
Around six months old, Bayla started suffering from very severe eczema. Doctor after doctor told our family it was just eczema and that there was nothing to worry about. Cream after cream, she still continued to be itchy and fussy.
It was around 12 months old when the scary stuff started to happen. At 12 months old, Bayla had her first asthma attack. If you haven’t seen a young child have an asthma attack, I have to tell you it is just about the scariest thing I have witnessed my children go through. They can’t communicate, and you can’t figure what’s going on. You feel absolutely helpless.
After her asthma attack, I started doing research myself. Doctors and their medicines were failing us because Bayla was getting worse not better. Hours and hours went by while I researched the Internet when I suddenly started to notice a pattern. A lot of the symptoms that Bayla was suffering from were signs of food allergies.
BUT WE DID EVERYTHING RIGHT
This didn’t make any sense. All of Bayla’s doctors swore that children this age couldn’t have food allergies. Actually they insisted that it wasn’t true. Plus, Bayla nursed exclusively until 6 months old, and then continued until the age of three. That was supposed to lower the risk for allergies, right?
With my new found information, I educated the doctors and then demanded that Bayla be tested for allergies. They were hesitant at first, but I was,well in a word, persistent. About two weeks later, we took Bayla to get her first RAST test.
It was another two weeks before we got the results, and it was the first time in my life that I absolutely hated being right. Bayla’s tests showed she was allergic to strawberries, peanuts, soy, dairy, and a few other foods. It was devestating to know how much she wouldn’t be able to eat, but at least we knew what was wrong.
FOOD ALLERGIES: JUST HOW SERIOUS ARE THEY?
After her diagnosis, we learned to read food labels religiously. We also learned that there are so many “secret” names for her allergens. Did you know that dairy is also known as whey, cassein, and curds? I sure didn’t before she tested positive for food allergies.
We thought we had it all figured out within six months. Two years later, we had action plans in place. Epipens everywhere and even signs at my daughter’s daycare in big BOLD letters. “Don’t let Bayla eat anything she doesn’t bring!” I thought it was simple and idiot proof.
About three months into her first year in preschool, my daughter had a daycare provider feed her some peanut butter crackers. Another teacher had set them on my daughter’s lunch bag. When I said there were signs everywhere about her allergies, I literally mean EVERYWHERE! I guess they weren’t bold enough because the teacher fed her the crackers anyway.
Peanuts are an extremely deadly allergen that easily kills people that are allergic too them. All because someone didn’t take the time to pay attention, my daughter got violently ill and had to be rushed to the hospital. Her symptoms were severe and instantaneous. Poor little kid barely had one cracker down before she knew what hit her. We were very lucky that she only got sick, but next time her reaction might be much more severe.
CELEBRATE FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK AND EDUCATE YOURSELF
Right there is the whole point of Food Allergy Awareness Week! It’s vitally important to educate others about food allergies and how to prevent severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis. Careless or remaining uneducated not only could hurt someone, it could kill them.
Next time you go to hand a child a snack or prepare dinner for some friends, please make sure you are aware of any food allergies. It is better to ask than jeopardize someone’s health.
If you are interested in learning more about food allergies, please visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Want to go a step farther? Find out what you can do to forward the Food Allergy Awareness Movement!
Educating yourself will help other people like my daughter Bayla, and it just might save a life!
Still not a believer at the severity of food allergies? Read this tragic story about a 15 year old that died due to food allergies