My son had terrible eczema from an early age. And when I was breastfeeding him, he used to throw up so much that we nicknamed him "Isadora" and kept a diaper draped around his neck like a diaphanous scarf. (Still not sure if it was a mom-milk allergy or just poor maternal burping skills.)
Our doctor, a "casual, carefree" sort used to give us a new unguent for him every two weeks or so. We'd put it on him, and then feed him benadryl, sometimes a couple of times a day because the itching was so bad. In the meantime, we kept asking if he had allergies, but nothing showed up.
Finally, two things happened. The pharmacist came out from behind the counter and sat down with me as he gave me the newest cream. "Don't put this below his waist," he said. "It's a steroid and can harm testicular development." OK, that was it for me.
So I went in to the doctor, and under pressure, our doctor admitted that, well, yes, it was probably a good idea to stop feeding him things that made him break out even though no allergy was discerned. Duh. So we stopped eggs, dairy, chocolate, cinnamon, pineapple, and tomatoes. And then, the following week, he tested positive allergy (low levels) to wheat and peanuts.
That was two years ago and we've been on a total dietary lockdown ever since. This week, I let my kid try a roll at dinner and nothing happened! So he might have grown out of it!
General Notes on Allergies
Apparently an amazing amount of Americans have "hidden" allergies to things like wheat and milk and eggs -- staples of our diet. Especially wheat. I cannot stress what a pain in the butt it is to decide to go "wheat free." We dreaded it. Ugh. Especially for a child! But it wasn't all that bad. I'll put tips in here.
I think that it's hard to get a firm diagnosis before they're 1, but you can just stop feeding them stuff that makes them break out or have reactions. Honest. (duh again.) Be aggressive. Don't wait for the doctor to tell you what to do. Why bother? It's not their kid. (Oh, did I say that? oops.)
Someone forwarded this site on. It's called The Analyst and apparently it helps to diagnose allergies? Hmmmn. (Don't they make one of these for obscure paranoias?)
Support and Information Sites
By now you have guessed that I'm a Yahoogroups fan. Well, it's true (but only because my original listmonger was eaten by Yahoo.) There are two groups on yahoogroups to go to for help on this issue. (I'm sure that there are more, but these are the two that I know and have used.)
POFAK@yahoogroups.com is Parents of Food Allergic Kids, and it's said to be absolutely wonderful. I signed up for it but don't really use it. Instead, and especially because my son has minor allergies (e.g. not life-threatening), I like Foodallergykitchen @yahoogroups.com, which does a wonderful job of helping you function with an allergy. What ingredients can you use? How do you make them by bulk? What is really in things like 7Up and Heintz catsup (you can do searches for hidden ingredient research), and so forth. This site is run by Diane, who has actually put out a CD-ROM cookbook that you can buy from her.
There are some great online places for wheat-free food. Like bagels, pies, etc. etc. Take a look at these, and for a treat, order some of their stuff. It's very easy to make, and even if your local store carries wheat-free products, it reminds you that there are more options out there.
Gluten-free trading company has an amazing amount of stuff. Catsup, etc. etc. Here's an article from their site about celiac disease, which includes some great articles and cookbook references. Here's a nice listing of current products that fit into a gluten-free casein-free (gfcf) diet. Very handy. Make sure that you read labels, though, because ingredients change.
If you go to the OT page or the ADHD page, or probably even the Autism page, you'll see mention of allergies. This is because so many studies are showing that many of the children with these types of medical problems also have sensitivity issues. And, to be honest, our environment has all sorts of nasty things in it that can harm our children, so nowadays if something is wrong, we must screen for exposure to strange stuff.
Here is information on the DMSA challenge for measuring mercury exposure. I am only putting it in this section because this is my "mental kitchen table" and I spoke with someone who told me that if someone tries to measure the amount of mercury in your child, that they should use this type of 'challenge' because a chelating agent will actually bind to the mercury and remove it to be measured, whereas some of the other tests might not catch it. I have no idea if this is true. I am merely noting it in case my child or yours needs mercury testing done, in which case you can ask!
Here is information on NAET, a highly-alternative therapy for dealing with allergens. (NOT recommended for things like peanut allergy - please use good judgment.)