My Daughter May Have a Nut Allergy & I'm Kind of Freaking Out

Mom Moment 45

cashewsIt started with a single cashew. My 4-year-old daughter saw a jar of them sitting on the counter and asked to try one. "Sure, that's a great new food for you to try," I told her as she popped it in her mouth.

She didn't like it, but swallowed it anyway, and went on her way. A bit later I noticed a rash on her face. I wasn't overly concerned as she has very sensitive skin and frequently gets rashes that come and go, but I kept watching it. About an hour and a half later, she vomited a couple of times. I was concerned enough then that I called the nurse line of my insurance company, just wondering if they thought I should get her tested for an allergy at some point. After a few minutes of questioning, she told me, "Ma'am hang up and call 911 NOW!" I tried to tell her I didn't think it was anything urgent, but she insisted, so I called 911.

I was apologetic when the ambulance arrived, telling them I didn't think she was in distress, but my insurance company told me to call. They were incredibly nice and said they don't mess around when it comes to kids and nut reactions since their airways close up so quickly. They checked her out, and she was fine, but I immediately called our pediatrician to set up an appointment to see if she did indeed have a nut allergy and, if so, what we needed to do about it. She'd had plenty of peanut butter over the years, so I thought if anything, it might be a tree nut problem, but I was anxious to get answers and banned her from any kind of nuts in the meantime.

The problem is that even after meeting with our doctor, we still have no real answers. She offered to do blood tests, but said even if they showed no sensitivities to nuts, she still wouldn't tell me to give my daughter nuts. So what was the point in the blood test? Nothing really. Based on the fact that my daughter had eczema as a baby and that they say she has asthma (which is based only on a couple of times when she had a cold, they heard wheezing), she's a prime candidate for a nut allergy, and so I should probably assume she could have one and keep her away from all nuts ... for life.

Really?! Just like that?

Obviously I would do anything to ensure the health of my daughter, and a nut allergy isn't the worst diagnosis she could have been given. But she really likes hummus and peanut butter cups, and I don't want her to have to face a lifetime of deprivation if she doesn't have to.

So I feel like we're in this murky place. She could have a reaction at anytime, or she may never. How serious could it be? Does she need to sit at the nut-free table at school? Do I need to call ahead to the airlines when we fly and request a peanut-free flight? Nuts make up a huge part of my diet -- what if I kiss her after eating one? No one really knows was pretty much the only answer I got. A reaction could happen.

Is a good cookie really worth the risk? No, but I also don't want her to be "an allergy kid" if she doesn't have to be one. It seems like every child I know has some sort of allergy, and I can't help but wonder if overdiagnosis isn't part of the problem.

Maybe I don't want to believe that she has an allergy, but I'm not willing to accept that she has one just yet. I feel like I have a lot of research to do, and at least a second if not third and fourth opinion to seek out as well. In the meantime, we'll avoid nuts, and I'm going to go fill this prescription for one of those EpiPens that I've always feared and hope I never have to use it.

Does your child have a nut allergy? What has your experience been like?


Image via Razor512/Flickr

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amand... amandabananda

My DD is 2 and looves her peanut butter.  When she eats nuts I do get nervous.  Neither DH's or my family has any allergies, so she should be OK, but it still freaks me out!

There has to be some allergy tests that can be done so you can be sure?

ILove... ILovemyPaulie

Wikipedia tells us, "The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe hat grows at the end of the pseudofruit." The shell portion of the cashew contains the phenolic resin urushiol, which can cause skin problems! In fact, the cashew has been considered a relative of the poison ivy, which contains the same dermatogenic allergen. Hence, cashews are generally not eaten raw.

So, how about just not giving her cashews. Have you thought about an Allergist Doctor??


handy... handy0318

I went through something similar with my son.... He kept getting a rash and the doctor said it was most likely an allergy to eggs and to not have him eat eggs or anything containing eggs.  I googled and informed myself and kept watch and it certainly seemed as if eggs the culprit.  But my son LOVES eggs and eggs are so packed with good nutrition.  I had him stop eating eggs for a while and it was truly hard on him.  Then there was the whole thing of what eggs are in (everything) and what could he eat that had eggs as part of the ingredients (nothing)...

Finally we were able to get him in and have him tests and ... nope, not allergic to eggs...  Allergic to just about every plant that grows naturally around here, but not eggs. 

Julie, you should schedule your daughter to see an allergy specialist and have her tested for allergies to nuts.  There is really no way a doctor can diagnose an allergy like this from a simple blood test. Have an allergist do skin tests and that should answer your questions.

nonmember avatar MomofTwo

I am right there with you! My daughter seems to be allergic to a LOT of things. After eating fresh nuts she got a rash all over her body twice, but when she had the allergy test it did not show any allergies to nuts. HUH? I feel the same way about not depriving her if I dont have to.. I give her peanut butter when shes with me and so far NO reactions, but wheat bread gives her hives, and the test showed a slight allergy to shellfish as well. Its a tricky road!!

jdotson jdotson

I have a nut allergy, have since I was little.  I get a rash at point of contact, meaning around the outside of my mouth and the inside of my mouth, then when I pass the nuts I get a point of contact rash.  here is what I have found out after years of painful experiments:  I can eat peanuts and pistachios just fine.  the oily nuts are no good.  I do believe it is the oils from the nuts that get me.  and I mean sometimes it Hurts!  I can eat roasted almonds, but I won't even touch cashews with my fingers.  I won't clean the bowls my husband eats his cashews out of, I have touched my face after handling oily nuts and bam!  theres the rash. 

what I did with my own kids to test on them if they were doomed like me: touched oily nuts and rubbed it on their outer and inner cheeks.  didn't let them eat the nuts just rubbed the oil on their skin.  they didn't react so I just did it as they got a little older a few times until they were old enough to eat the nuts safely, started with less oily ones and worked up with small pieces.  both my kids can eat them with no problem. 

Woofi... WoofieMom

I too have a tree nut problem. I can do peanuts without a problem because those are technically a legume. I also can't do sesame or sunflower seeds. I get jdotson's symptoms plus the airway closes up.

Aeris... AerisKate

As others have said, take your daughter to an allergist. There is a specific skin test they can do to see if she is allergic to tree nuts (among other things).  I wouldn't continue on in the dark when you can have concrete answers. 

JessL... JessLogansMommy

My son had no problems with peanuts but we thought he had a milk allergy so we had the blood test done.  Milk was negative but his peanut was positive.  The pediatrician said that because of the nature of a nut allergy we couldn't take any chances and to refrain from nuts.  We did a full year nut free and had him re-tested when he was 2.  It was negative.  Since he was never symptomatic we got the go ahead to resume nuts as normal.  If he had been positive again we would have gone to the allergist to have him evaluated. 

corri... corrinacs

The good news: If she's eating peanut butter often (She likes peanut butter cups) then chances are she wno't have a reaction.  If she did, she would have showed signs of it alraedy :).  So, in that respect, don't change anything.

The bad news: stay away from nuts.  Have you had her tested via skin prick.  Your doctor should have referred you to an allergist.  It was very irresponsible of your pediatrican not to!  See if you can get into one without a referral or ask your pediatrician for one.  The allergist can perform the prick test.  You may come to find out that her skin rashes and asthma were related to other food allergies :).  They can also do further blood tests to find allergies (if she's having other problems).  DO IT!!!!!!  I promise!

Beyond that STAY AWAY FROM NUTS.  Nuts and peanuts are actually different.  Peanuts are technically legumes (beans).  Nuts are totally different.


corri... corrinacs

Also, ask the ped or allergist for an epi-pen.  If the doctor DID NOT prescribe one, then again....irresponsible pediatrician.

And its not "bad" to be an allergy kid.  It has taught me to be more organized and to go out of my comfort zone when it comes to food.  It has also taught me how to cook (seriously).  My sons have food allergies, between them both I am sure its nearly EVERYTHING!  I am not kidding.  Talk about teaching me about organization :).

So far, in the outside world, I have mainly been met with care and others realizing the responsibility.  For the most part, everyone that comes into contact with my son knows about his allergies and abide by the no peanut or egg rule.

If you haven't, join the Young  Children with Allergies, Asthma and Excema group on here.  A bunch of great ladies (like me) who can help you navigate this scary world of allergies!

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