In Allergy, Blog


failure to thrive food allergy

Can failure to thrive be a food allergy?

As parents, it is our job to ensure our children are given the best start on life possible. So when your infant’s pediatrician tells you that your baby is failing to thrive, you start to question everything.

My first son was only weeks old when we first suspected something was wrong. His skin was abnormally rough in patches. We knew what eczema looked like, we had dealt with it with our daughter, and this was different. He scratched and scratched and scratched until his sweet baby skin was marred by scabs and open sores.

His stool, by the time he had passed all the meconium, wasn’t the neon orange cottage cheese we knew was healthy for an exclusively breastfed baby. It was a green mucus, peppered with black specks.

Blood tests at the pediatrician’s office showed a few abnormal numbers, but “nothing concerning,” according to the Doctor. My motherly instincts screamed at me otherwise. I took a copy of the test results home and spent a sleepless night Googling everything that had come back abnormal.

The next morning I was on the phone with the pediatrician, demanding a referral to a G.I. specialist.

My suspicions were confirmed a few days later when our new Doctor nodded his head in agreement as I told him about the connections I made; my son was suffering from severe intestinal inflammation caused by a food allergy.

Validated, we moved forward. I removed dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, and fish from my diet, in the hopes that I could continue to breastfeed my son. At our next appointment, he had slowly started to pass the 3 rd percentile, but not fast enough to satisfy us. We started supplementing with an allergy friendly formula.

By the time my son was 6 months old, I was breastfeeding less and offering him more formula. He began to thrive.

As we introduced solid foods to his diet, I was careful to continue staying away from the foods we suspected were causing his reactions. He ate a lot of avocado, sweet potato, olives, and black beans, which were his absolute favorite. He became a fat, happy baby. His bowel movements normalized but he still had skin issues. We began to worry that he might have asthma as well.

Finally, when he turned a year old, we were able to get him tested for allergies.

He was allergic to traditional milk.



And all other legumes. His favorite food was black beans.

I felt horrible. For 6 months I had been topically treating his skin issues while simultaneously feeding him the cause of his pain. There is no cure for mom guilt like that, except time and resolution.

With his allergies pinpointed, we were finally able to break through his skin issues. We were careful, oh so careful, with the foods we gave him. Even though his allergies manifested in his digestive tract, we knew that they could develop into an anaphylactic reaction at any point.

A year later we went back to the allergy Doctor to retest him. His milk allergy was gone. We spent 4 hours in a tiny room together where they slowly exposed him to milk. He had no reactions. We began to hope that he’d grow out of his bean allergy as well.

Eventually, when he was 6 years old, we took him to be retested. This time, he only showed a mild allergy to cats. He was exposed to peanut butter and had no reaction other than terror. We had spent his entire life warning him away from peanuts and now, here we were, asking him to put some on his lips. Then his tongue. Then asking him to actually eat some. It didn’t matter that it was wrapped in chocolate and one of the best candies on the planet, he couldn’t get over the fact that we had always told him peanuts would make him sick.

He didn’t get sick.

But he still prefers almond butter.

Jessica Cobb

An aspiring novelist, Jessica is the Domestic Pirate, Ren Faire Privateer Gone Mom. When she's not
blogging or wasting time on Facebook she's taking care of the Captain and their 4 Cabin Kids. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, xoJane, Mamalode, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Mamapedia Voices, BLUNTmoms, and BlogHer, and she is working on publishing her first children’s book. Obsessed with Pirates and the internet, she is convinced that the dough is always better than the cookie.

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