Sunday, December 30, 2007

Still Working On It

Victoria at has a nice little post about a recent Journal of Pediatrics article on food allergies. Dr. Scott Sicherer, an allergist whose name many will recognize, wrote:
There is, at this time, no single practice that has been shown to prevent allergies in any particular child. Best practices from major medical groups are simply what has been demonstrated, in a majority of studies, to have some effect in a large population group.

And here's what I wrote in the comments:

Yes. Wow, I’m so glad to see this written so clearly and by an expert. This is part of what makes dealing with food allergies so confusing, especially for friends and family. There is such a confluence of factors that may or may not affect whether someone has a food allergy, and medical science hasn’t figured out the answers yet. While this is frustrating, it’s somewhat comforting, too, to know that we are all in this together, doing the best we can.

It's hard. Hard to accept that there is no Big Answer for WHY. I get asked this quite a bit, especially from someone who is just learning about my son's allergy. Why did my child end up allergic to peanuts? I don't know. That is the plain, simple truth. I don't know and neither does anyone else. Here's what I do know for certain:

  • I have many allergies and most of them are quite severe.
  • I have anaphylactic allergies (to penicillin and sulfa).
  • I had eczema as a child.
  • My allergies showed up when I was very young, less than a year, I believe. Certainly no later than 18 months.
  • Allergies are hereditary.
  • Therefore, any children of mine have a higher risk of having any kind of allergies.
  • We roast peanuts in our country (roasted peanuts are more allergenic than raw or boiled).
  • We make lots of our food in big factories, and often this food includes peanuts.
  • Peanut proteins are sticky and difficult to clean off equipment completely.
Those are the only things I really know for certain. It doesn't really explain why Ryan is a class VI for peanut, why a few bites of peanut butter in some ice cream led to a fun-filled night of paramedics and the hospital. It doesn't help me prevent my daughter from developing any allergies. For all I know, she is allergic to peanuts or more. (We'll have her tested this spring.)

It's very frustrating. But I meant what I wrote above: it's also somewhat comforting in a really strange way, to know that I did the best I could with my son, that I'm following the best known medical advice I can follow with my daughter. I'm doing what I can and if he never shakes this allergy, if she ends up allergic to something, then we'll figure out how to deal with it and move on. And I'm also comforted by the knowledge that there are what my son calls "doctor-scientist-peopleguys" out there working on figuring out this puzzle. A puzzle--it's one big ginormous medical puzzle. It is nice to know they're still working on it. Can't wait to find out how it turns out.

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