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Anaphylaxis

My son yesterday was confirmed by a paediatric immunologist to have anaphylaxis to egg and dairy (all non human milk).

It came as no surprise, as we have been to emergency twice in the last year due to these severe allergies. First time was a year ago when he tried some formula for the first time, and the second was last november when he accidentally ate some egg.

It is very scary as a parent watching your child in such distress and pain, and unable to do much. You feel helpless, and blame yourself for causing it. He is so young, and can’t understand what is going on. All he would know is that he is in pain, itchy, and in a very strange place with strangers poking and prodding him.

As a mother of a child with these severe allergies it has always been a concern when leaving him in the care of others. Whether it be family or friends, it is sometimes hard to really rely on other peoples vigilance. I am not talking about people not caring, but quite often I have been shocked that people don’t realise how much food out there contains dairy and egg. Foods you wouldn’t suspect have these ingredients. So many foods are so highly processed with 101 ingredients, that it is easy to miss an ingredient that is derived from egg or dairy. I religiously look at ingredients, and if I don’t know what is in it, I will not give it to him. I cook all dinners from scratch at home, and try and give him foods that are nutritious and contain calcium. We don’t eat take away, as it is hard to really know what is in it. Main reason being is that I can’t count on others knowing what ‘dairy’ means. That might sound obvious, but people often assume I am just talking about milk and cheese, but forget the other forms of dairy such as cream, butter, sour cream, custard, mayonnaise, etc. All it takes is a smear of butter on a sandwich to cause a reaction.

The Western world is very reliant on dairy in their diet, but so many other cultures and countries don’t eat dairy like we do here in Australia. It took a while to shift my way of thinking and think outside the box, but in the last 12 months it has gotten easier to live with. There are alternatives, you just have to go searching for them. Australia is the number one country for allergies followed by New Zealand. We still don’t know exactly what the cause is, but we know it is something in our environment that we are exposed to. Whoever finds the cure will no doubt win the nobel prize!!

Living with a child who has allergies just becomes a way of life. It is always in the back of my mind whenever we are out and about. Toddlers have a tendency to eat food off the ground or grab some out of another child’s hand or plate. They are curious, and innocently exploring the world. I am always having to watch my son to ensure this doesn’t happen, and often feel like the paranoid crazy mother at play group. I look forward to the day when he is a little older and can understand a little better.

On a positive note, majority of children with milk and egg allergies grow out of it by the age of 10, so fingers crossed this is the case for us.