Awww Nuts! Can Your Child Outgrow a Peanut Allergy?

PBFantasies I’ve envisioned of making my kid PB&J sandwiches for his school lunch, chowing down together on Thai chicken bowls with peanut sauce, gorging on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups after trick or treating together have been dashed!  Damn you peanut allergy!

In all seriousness, Helen and I were saddened to learn that our little Tyler has a significant peanut allergy.

First off, we both realize that we are truly blessed to have such a healthy, spunky, happy 11 month old.  When he smiles and squeals with joy, it makes our hearts melt.  But, it’s still frustrating to know that he won’t be able to partake in the tastiness of all things peanut based, a simple joy in life.  As a parent, you want your child to have every opportunity in life, including these small little things.

It all started with a visit to his pediatrician a few months back, who recommended that it was time to introduce peanut based foods.  So we picked up a peanut based snack she had recommended and gave it a try that same day.  With his usual voracious appetite, Tyler excitedly devoured the new snack with sheer bliss.  But, to our dismay, within the next hour he developed: swollen eyelids, significant hives over his whole body, a hoarse cough indicating some airway constriction, and multiple bouts of vomiting.  We immediately gave him some Benadryl, called the on-call pediatrician, and were about to head out to the emergency room.  But, he luckily responded very quickly to the Benadryl and with repeated doses given under the advice of our pediatrician, everything calmed down within the next few hours.  What a scare!

Since then, we found a pediatric allergist who confirmed through testing that he has a significant peanut & walnut allergy, as well as a few other potential food sensitivities.  She laid it out very clearly, that it would be unlikely that he would outgrow this allergy, which was a tough pill to swallow.

Naturally, as parents, our minds started swirling with questions and our fingers began furiously “googling” things.  Was it a mistake to introduce peanuts so early?  Should we have introduced it even earlier like they do in some other countries?  Can he ever grow out of it?  What are the chances?  Do people in our family have allergies?  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?!?

Then, anxieties about the future kicked in: how will we make sure he doesn’t accidently eat nut based foods?  How do we handle it when he sees other kids eating these things and he can’t?  How do you use an epi-pen?  What happens if he has a bad reaction and the epi-pen isn’t around?  Are we going to be labeled as “those parents” who are thought to be “neurotic”?

We quickly realized that we weren’t the only parents who have a child with food allergies.  We cognitively knew this, obviously.  But, in that short interim, from the point of discovering the allergy to when you finally start talking about it with other parents and sharing/bonding together, you feel like somehow you and your child were selected by some unlucky karma lottery of bad fortune and were the only ones selected!  Dramatic, I know, but that’s human nature, and that’s how we felt briefly.

We eventually came to our senses and realized that we shouldn’t feel guilty, because this was not something within our control.  That we are blessed to have a healthy and happy child.  And that he’s going to have a fun-filled childhood, minus being able to eat peanuts/walnuts.  But, there’s always that nagging, lingering sense of feeling sorry for him (especially when he gives you that “puppy-dog-eyes-pouty-lipped-guilt-trip-inducing-why-can’t-I-eat-what-you’re-eating?-look”. Yes, that’s a specific look, parents know what I’m talking about).

I’ve come to accept that it is what it is and that he may never “outgrow” his nut allergy.  But, it couldn’t hurt asking, did you, your child, or a loved one ever manage to grow out of a peanut/nut allergy?  Stats are stats, but I’d like to know if anyone out there personally has actually had that happen or seen it happen.

Until his next food allergy re-testing a year from now, we’re still hoping, praying, and crossing our fingers that maybe, maybe… Tyler will be fortunate enough to outgrow this.  But, we’re keeping our expectations realistic and can accept that it may not happen.

And I told myself, “no more googling”… because reading any more stats, medical articles, and forums is bound to make me go… (okay, okay… I won’t say it).

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