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The new allergy mantra: You probably won’t outgrow it

Submitted by on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 4 Comments

It didn’t really hit Big Guy for almost a full day after I broke the news about his latest allergy test results. He figured it out while we were standing in the food court at the post exchange ordering subs for lunch. He glanced at the pizzeria next to the sandwich shop and winced.

“I’ll never be able to eat there, will I, Mommy?” he asked.

“Probably not, babes. Probably not.”

In years past, my answer would have been different because I let each new round of allergy testing raise new hope. This year, though I tried to downplay it in front of Big Guy, I was almost optimistic. His levels had been falling steadily – in fact, he was “only” on the high end of moderately allergic to garlic, but because he’d had reactions in the past his doctor wanted to wait. Plus he’s nearly 7. That’s the age when many childhood allergies begin to disappear.

If the garlic sensitivity would fall just a bit more, he could be a bit more normal, I thought. Take-out pizza and ketchup with his fries. Salsa at restaurants. Pepperoni.

Instead, it went up. He’s now highly sensitive to garlic and all tree nuts. Previously, he’d nonallergic to almonds. He’d always been highly sensitive to egg, and his levels climbed higher this time around. His peanut allergy is through the roof at 70 – double his last result. Anything over 17.5 is considered “very high.” He’s likely going to react to peanut oil as well, his doctor cautioned, which explains why he started choking at the mall a few months back when he sat next to a friend who was eating Asian food. If it keeps doubling every two years, eventually he’s going to react from looking at a peanut three states away.

He’s also on the high end of “moderately sensitive” to most other foods he was tested for, including banana, green bean, oat, peas, potato, soy, tomato, wheat and virtually everything else that grows in the ground.  That doesn’t mean he can’t eat it but it does explain a history of bellyaching about belly aches. It also means, based on my own food allergy history, that I need to be careful about combinations when planning meals.

He’s completely nonallergic to beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, codfish, seafood,pork, lettuce, milk and chocolate. The only foods we’ve found that both he and I are completely nonallergic to are tuna, beef and chocolate. Pass the Hershey bar, please – without almonds.

All in all, it’s a pretty discouraging result at an age when children outgrow food allergies. Outgrow it? He’s not even eligible for a food challenge, which involves a patient eating every-increasing amounts of an allergen under a doctor’s supervision.

In the past, I would have answered Big Guy’s pizza question with “maybe someday you’ll be able to eat there.” Now I’m thinking that that response cruelly raises false hope. We have a new reality now.

Probably not, babes. Probably not.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:


  • Strawberry said:

    Both my daughters have multiple severe food allergies, and I can’t tell you how many people respond with, “Well, it’s tough now, but someday it will be over…” The assumption being that they WILL outgrow them, that this is a temporary condition. They are always surprised when I say that there’s a good chance they will outgrow some, but almost no chance they will outgrow all of them (quoting our allergist here), and they/we will be managing a life-threatening condition for the rest of their lives. It takes pretty much everyone by surprise, and always depresses me afresh when I say it.

  • Tanya said:

    I just found out our 8 month old son is deathly allergic to eggs in all forms, and its knocking me for a loop. How do you deal with going out to eat Ms. Legg. Just like you we are in the military however we are on an AFB. I have two other kids who are not allegic to anything but all 3 of my kids are lactose intolant. Mj is the worst though out of the 3. I am trying to figure out how we are going to change how we eat to adapt to help him and still be able to not punish his sisters in the process, I dont want him to feel left out either. Please if you have any suggestions please please pass them on, I sure could use some!


  • Michelle W said:

    I certainly can relate to your (& Big Guy’s) situation. My 2 1/2 year-old son has been allergic to eggs, peanuts & tree nuts since he was 8 mos. (at least that’s when I found out). Our family managed to eat out from time to time without any event until about 1 month ago when he became so ill from taking less than a half tsp of chicken pineapple rice (which we requested to be totally egg-free). Heaven only knows what else he could possibly be allergic. My husband is still optimistic that our son will outgrow his allergies but I’m not so sure now. It scares me to think that something horribly wrong will happen to him when he starts going to school, so much so that I’m considering home schooling for my 2 boys. I don’t know if my younger son will be as sensitive as my older one and I’m hoping I never have to find out the hard way. Although there are so many people out there with allergies, it can sometimes feel so isolating having to deal with them. Thank you for your site; I shall bookmark it as a resource.