or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Life With a Baby › Paranoid about food allergies - help!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Paranoid about food allergies - help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My 10-month-old is a horrible sleeper and has been since about 5 months old.  That, plus some mild circles under her eyes, made us wonder if she has a food allergy or intolerance.  We stopped wheat and dairy for about a month, with no change.  But I'm so sleep-deprived and obsessed that now I feel totally paralyzed about what to feed her.  So I guess I have two questions:

 

- Can a food allergy really show up ONLY in their sleep?  Is this even worth pursuing?

 

- Those of you with older babies, are you feeding them the so-called "allergenic" foods:  tree nuts, soy, eggs, cheese/yogurt, wheat, etc?  At what age did you start introducing those foods?

 

I feel like we have gotten stuck - I'm terrified to feed her anything that might make the sleep even worse, but I'm so exhausted that I can't cope creatively with a special diet.  The child is starting to look at me like, "Seriously?  You call this lunch?"  Just needing a grip on what other (sane!) mamas are doing.

post #2 of 15

I would personally work on the sleep issue instead of worrying about food.  True food allergies are actually pretty rare and you would be seeing other kinds of symptoms as well as sleep problems.  You can always talk to your doc to rule out allergies (10 months is a little early to get tested, but it's possible), but I would work on addressing her sleep needs. 

 

As far as the allergenic foods, there's not a lot of evidence that introducing them at a particular time does any good.  Some allergens (pet dander and environmental allergens) are actually better introduced early (before six months of age), according to some research.  The research on food allergies is all over the place.  The general advice is simply to introduce these foods one at a time so you can watch for any potential reactions.  When you introduce them doesn't seem to impact whether a child develops an allergy or not.

 

Good luck!  It sounds like you're doing your best.  I hope you get some sleep soon!!!

post #3 of 15

I would agree with LilyTiger about focusing on the sleep issue. That said, food allergy testing can be done on a 10 month old, so if you are really concerned about food allergies and doing some elimination of major food groups on your own, it may make sense to consult with an allergist.

 

You both need your sleep!

 

 

 -Food Allergy Assistant

 www.foodallergyassistant.com

post #4 of 15
My son has a long list of food allergies, and was always a terrible sleeper; but he also had blood in his poop, a constant runny nose, and horrible eczema. These symptoms made us look into food allergies more so than the sleeping (or lack of) did. Even now that we (think) we have all of his allergies figured out, he still sleeps poorly.
post #5 of 15

Sleep was the primary challenge before we realized my daughters allergies.  Of course there were some other signs (diarrhoea, face rash, difficulty laying flat), but what we noticed the most was really poor sleep.  Allergy testing is so quick and painless (and free in Canada), so I would not hesitate to test.  There is nothing lost by doing the test, and it really turned her health around when we eliminated dairy, wheat, rice, eggs, and almonds (all showed up on the prick-test). After a year we were able to reintroduce without a problem. 

 

After our 2-year long struggle with very poor sleep related to underlying medical issues, I am quick to suggest seeing if there is an underlying medical issue first. If there isn't, then you can look at just sleep related solutions, and you haven't lost anything. 

post #6 of 15

Without any other symptoms, I would not target allergies first.  Dark circles around the eyes are not considered a sign of allergies.  The current wisdom is to *not* wait to introduce foods like wheat and other common allergens *unless* there is a family history of allergies.  Not too long ago, parents were advised to wait as long as possible before introducing these foods.

 

The thing about testing babies, if you could find an allergist who would test them without any other symptoms, is that allergies come and go.  The skin prick test is *not* entirely painless and some kids are incredibly upset by the process.  

 

So, I think the answer is "no", an allergy or intolerance would not just show up in sleep and I don't think this is worth pursuing.  

 

Now that you've eliminated wheat and dairy, though, you might as well do a controlled reintroduction ("challenge").  Reintroduce them one at a time, in relatively large amounts.  Notice if you see any symptoms: redness or hives around the mouth, or redness or hives on the anus after elimination, intense abdominal pain, vomiting; mucous or blood or off-colored stools and a dramatic increase in frequency.  For infants, there might be some intense bouts of crying in addition to some other symptoms.  Minus the redness and hives, these also can be signs of an intolerance. (If you introduce dairy in the form of yogurt, you will probabaly see some digestive changes--perfectly normal-- but keep a lookout for these other signs.)

 

After you've introduced one and noted any changes, introduce the other.  You've just done a food challenge, the essential (but usually forgotten) "other half" to testing for food allergies or intolerances.  

 

But I predict you are not going to see any of this.

post #7 of 15
Inability to sleep can be part of a food allergy/intolerance. I understand the 'so what can I make now?' issue.

You have some choices to make. Do you want to do the food challenges? Do you want to go to an allergist? Sometimes allergy tests are not helpful, because the problem is classified as an intolerance or sensitivity. It has to do with how the body reacts. From a 'what do I make' standpoint, it is the same, as in certain foods are avoided.

If you are breastfeeding, you also must avoid the foods, or the test is not accurate. I, personally, would be a little more cautious with adding foods back into a diet than was suggested.

Good luck, whatever you decide. I hope you can all get some sleep soon.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post


If you are breastfeeding, you also must avoid the foods, or the test is not accurate. I, personally, would be a little more cautious with adding foods back into a diet than was suggested.
 

Certainly if there is the possibility of an anaphylactic shock, you would never add the foods back in such a way.  But for other allergies, it can be the clearest method for noticing a problem.  If you add foods in slowly (and there is an allergy), the symptoms might not be as obvious.  Adding in a cracker is not going to have as noticeable an effect as if you offered a plate of spaghetti.

 

Inability to sleep is indeed a symptom of allergies/intolerances but by itself is probably not, especially as far as allergies are concerned.  Intolerances might be just mild enough not to produce any other distressing symptoms, which is why a food challenge of some sort would be a good idea, especially since these foods have already been eliminated.

 

There are so many other possible causes of inability to sleep, and the road towards food restrictions can be so frustrating (and confusing, especially when starting out), that when someone asks

 

Quote:
 Can a food allergy really show up ONLY in their sleep?  Is this even worth pursuing?

my answer will be "no".  Look into other possibilities before examining this one.  

 

If you can't shake your suspicions, keep a food diary and record sleep, wake, mood, and elimination patterns.

 

 

post #9 of 15
There is a happy medium between a single cracker and a whole plate of spaghetti!

From personal experience -- Yes, it is possible for the ONLY *noticeable* symptom to be insomnia. Usually, with hindsight, other symptoms can be be seen.

Also from personal experience -- eating something that causes a vomit reaction can also involve hours (up to 4) of misery. Not only that, but I was tested on things so much, that I view the vomiting as torture. I feel for a child who cannot explain what he or she is feeling.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow - great insights, everyone!  Thank you!  I must confess, we were so sleep deprived that the dietary challenges were just too much to cope with.  Especially on the off chance that she might have a slight allergy to something.  Or she might be teething, getting ready to walk, or simply in the notorious 8-10 month sleep regression.  Or we might be dealing with some less-than-ideal sleep habits.  So many reasons why she might not be sleeping, including the simple fact that some babies don't sleep well.  So we bailed out.  She got sick (fever-sick, not food-sick), and after surviving THOSE sleepless nights, my husband and I just felt like something had to give in order to keep the family running.

 

So far, she's had no noticeable reactions to anything except bananas (they give her a tummyache).  Sometimes her bottom is red, but again nothing like a rash or hives, so hard to pin down.  I'm still keeping a close eye on her from top to bottom- since she can't tell me everything she's feeling, I don't want to miss a problem.  But unless there's some big reaction, I'm going to need to take the approach of eliminating one thing at a time, rather than eliminating it all and then adding them back.  I don't know how those of you cope with serious allergies - I admire your diligence!

post #11 of 15

Redness can be "just" irritation to a food (olives or beets for me--- don't dismiss something because it's "just" irritating) or it can be a sign of a mild allergy.  There doesn't need to be hives to be an allergic response.

 

Keep a food diary once things settle down little.

post #12 of 15
A food, activity and sleep diary. I think a diary is a great way to determine reactions. Keep in mind that extra physical activity during the day will help with sleep issues at night. In fact, my brother, who refuses to consider food sensitivities, exercises strenuously before going to bed, so he can get some sleep. Other than that, you should see patterns of exposure to certain food and a restless night, or staying up late, or getting up early. Good luck.


Edited to add : as far as how people with food allergies manage -- we manage because we have no other choice. At least that's true for me.
post #13 of 15
Food intolerances are different than allergies and can cause malabsorption issues. My children have fructose intolerance. The first sign they ate something they shouldn't have is dark circles around their eyes. The gastroenterologist called then "allergy shiners". The second sign is irritability and frenzied running around. Then they have potty accidents. That night they have sleep issues. It all goes away after 3 days of avoiding their trigger foods.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionessMom View Post

Food intolerances are different than allergies and can cause malabsorption issues. My children have fructose intolerance. The first sign they ate something they shouldn't have is dark circles around their eyes. The gastroenterologist called then "allergy shiners". The second sign is irritability and frenzied running around. Then they have potty accidents. That night they have sleep issues. It all goes away after 3 days of avoiding their trigger foods.

Sounds like you have a lot of experience with food issues. I would be less certain about the three day rule. If there has been a buildup from exposure to the trigger food(s), then there may be a longer and gradual decrease of symptoms. I know it took about a month for me to get a good night's sleep after a couple months exposure to a trigger food.
post #15 of 15
It will be different for different people with different sensitivities, intolerances, or malabsorption syndromes. For us, and our fructose malabsorption, 3 days is good. Except for remineralizing teeth or rebalancing systems etc. That takes longer.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Life With a Baby
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Life With a Baby › Paranoid about food allergies - help!