Last week I was changing the sheets on my son Mason’s bed when I noticed a new collection taped to his wall. He does this often: taping pictures of things he loves near his bed so he can look at them when he goes to sleep. For a while he had a drawing of Princess Peach up there… his first pin-up. The latest is a few pictures of his favorite people’s houses (grandparents and neighbors) that he printed off of Google Maps (long story) and a family photo from our spring break vacation to Myrtle Beach.
Among these photos, I noticed a little piece of notebook paper with a list he had written out. I inched closer to see what I could decipher. Then I couldn’t help but laugh to see my husband’s face accidentally covered up!
The note says:
- Soy (Soybeen oil is ok)
- Soy (Soybeen oil is ok)
Our 6-year-old made a list of all of the food allergens that he and his little brothers are currently avoiding. And, just like his momma, he made sure to include the important details… that soybean oil is “OK”. So cute! Then I asked him about it.
“Mason, why did you tape a list of everyone’s allergies to the wall?”
“Well, I want to cross them off when we outgrow them.”
Oh the sweetness!
“That’s awesome! You know what, though? You and Winston might outgrow some of your allergies, but Carter probably won’t outgrow soy. People don’t usually outgrow EoE allergies.”
I can’t even count how many times people have said to me “he’ll probably outgrow it” when referring to my kids and their food allergies. Then I always have to politely correct them: maybe some, but probably not all.
When Mason was first diagnosed with his corn allergy, our allergist told us immediately that we were lucky, as corn is one of the food allergies children commonly outgrow (and he eventually did). Others include dairy, wheat and egg. According to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, about 80% of children with these allergies outgrow them by the age of 18. Peanut, tree nut and shellfish allergies, however, are only outgrown about 20% of the time. But these stats only apply to those who have IgE-mediated allergies, which cause immediate symptoms like rash, hives and difficulty breathing.
Eosiniphilic Esophagitis (EoE) is a different story. When Carter was diagnosed with EoE (from a soy allergy) we were told that he will most likely never outgrow it. EoE is a chronic allergic inflammatory disease causing eosinophils to collect in the esophagus as a non-IgE-mediated allergic response. There is no rash or difficulty breathing, merely symptoms like inflammation within the esophagus that are usually delayed.
Although EoE and the food allergens that cause it may never be outgrown, I try to look at it from a positive perspective: Carter is not anaphylactic (scary!) and his disease is entirely manageable. And, as the EoE allergic reaction is considered a delayed response (meaning the allergen would need to be eaten on a regular basis for the reaction to occur), my hope is that some day when little Carter is fully grown he will be able to eat small amounts of soy without triggering a reaction, basing the amount he can eat on the severity of his symptoms. Or maybe, if we’re lucky, someone will develop an EoE medication that will reverse the reaction, like a Lactaid of sorts. I would hate for him to miss out on all of that yummy Chinese food!
For now, I think we will keep Mason’s little list of food allergies. How wonderful it will be if ever the day comes when we can cross off those allergens, one by one.