Monday, May 18, 2009

Let Her Rip

This email was sent to me by a friend of mine, in regards to a doctor's appointment she and her boyfriend just had.  I have changed/removed their names.

"As you know, Steve has the whey allergy and he's currently working with an allergist and a GI doctor, trying to rule out exactly what is going on. Currently, they think it might be a contact allergy within his actual intestines. Like - consuming the food itself isn't a problem, it's as he's digested and it moves into his intestines that the allergy is triggered and then he has the symptoms.

I have a really bad allergy to penicillin that started in my teens and part of my reaction during that was really, really bad hives. Ever since then, I seem to get hives really easily. I had a TERRIBLE outbreak in Nov. or Dec. on my face (I have pictures and it's like something from a horror movie). They ended up putting me on 2 different types of steroids and Rx benedryl. Since then I've gotten smaller outbreaks 2 or 3 times and now this week another bigger one. Also, the past two summers I've been having bad seasonal allergies with swollen eyes and can't wear my contacts.

Today we went to the doctor[ed: general practitioner, not allergist] (me for the hives, Steve for the flu) and after hearing both of our stories of allergies, he said some stuff that's really been eating at me.

He got into this big speech about allergies and that Steve and I should go to a gene doctor and allergic and seriously consider having kids if we decide to become more serious and start a family. It just came across like any kids Steve and I would have would be like a selfish decision of ours, and not in the best interest of a child.

He said that the worst of both parents can manifest in the child, and we might have a child with all kinds of asthma and allergy problems, and not being able to eat a lot of foods, etc. That a neighbor of his has a child with 6 different types of severe food allergies and is on a really restricted diet. [Ed: The doctor also admitted to them that he isn't sure if allergies are hereditary.]

I don't know .. maybe I'm just being silly and he's just overly cautious, but it really just seemed like grim news to me. It's allergies - which yes, are serious, but they can also be dealt with. It's not like you would ever decide to NOT have Katherine b/c she can't have dairy! You just educate yourself, educate her, and make changes to let her life be as healthy and danger-free as possible!

Haha, well I guess that really isn't a question after all. More like venting and asking your opinion or advice. You're really the only person I know (more than just reading another's blog) that has a child with severe allergies, so I thought I'd get your take on it b/c I really like your approach to allergies and K's safety."

Well! I have already responded, and you can probably guess the content of my reply, what with Scott and me having had TWO MORE children after giving birth to an allergic child. But the writer of this email graciously agreed to letting me share this with you. I want her to hear from other parents--whether you have an allergic child or not. What are your thoughts?


  1. My husband has moderate to severe asthma.
    When it became apparent that my children were having asthma symptoms I felt a little guilty, like we probably caused them, but that lasted about 6 seconds.
    Kids get allergies.
    Kids get asthma.
    you just deal with what comes.
    My mom developed a food allergy when she was 24. no warning, no previous sensitivity.
    I wouldn't make the choice to not have my beautiful wonderful children for anything.

  2. I was an allergic kid have one child with allergies. I did things that might lessen allergies (eat healthy/ breastfeed) but never thought of not having kids. I would not want to give birth durring pollen season is the only limit I can reasonibily think of.

  3. At least she knows and if they do decide can be on the look out and be proactive. I was surprised when the allergist told us having a family history of environmental allergies can make your kids more prone to food allergies. Sounds as if the doctor could work on bedside manner though for sure.

  4. We have no (known) food allergies in our families - either side for as far back as we can remember.

    Our youngest son, now 2 years old, is anaphylactic to dairy, severely allergic to peanut, egg white, and egg yolk. Where did THAT come from????

    First of all, from our personal experience, allergies are going to pop up here and there even if there is no known history.

    Secondly, that doctor had no right to say those things to you guys and to get into your business about possible future children. It certainly wasn't the advice you went in seeking. I feel your frustration!

    To make a long comment longer...

    My husband suffered from severe depression several years ago. It wasn't until then that his mother told "the family secret" that depression runs far back in her family.

    At the time, we only had one child. She offered similar advice to that of your doctor in that she brought up that we should really consider not having more children because of the risk of passing it on. NONE of her business. (I love my MIL dearly, but that comment still irks me!)

    My calm response to her was this, "Now that we know we are dealing with hereditary depression, we will know what to look for and be able to catch it in the early stages."

    I think the same is true for allergies or whatever ailment one might pass on. Educate yourself, deal with it, love your children, and move on. No one is completely healthy... there is always going to be something.

  5. WOW! Well, our first born had several severe food allergies and now has asthma. Our second born has nothing - no food or environmental allergies. We did not even think about not having another child b/c she MIGHT have allergies. You can't live like that, in my opinion. Too many what ifs....
    That said, a friend of mine's first born had such severe food allergies (peanut, egg, soy and many more), excema and more that they seriously considered not having another child. I think they really feared that one would die. Anyway, they ended up having a second child and she does have severe food allergies - and mostly all different than her brother - making life very hard for this family. She has some of the worst excema I have ever seen. Still, they are happy to have two children.

    So, I think the Dr. might have been right to inform them but like someone else said.... he needs to work on his bedside manner. It is one thing to mention it and let the couple decide, but another to make them feel selfish or guilty about choosing to have children.

    Are you going to post YOUR reply?

  6. After being infertile for eleven years, and suffering two miscarriages, having a dairy allergic daughter feels like the best gift in the world to me. I'm expecting my second (a son) very soon and ti never occurred to us that our daughter's milk allergy should make us consider not having any more!

    My sister has four children. Her first has animal allergies and asthma (much like his daddy), her third is allergic to milk. Two have no allergies at all.

    I think the doctor in question just has a personal soap box and needs to be told to step off!

  7. Wow... I have asthma but I control my environment enough it's not an issues and I have the milk and egg protein allergy. My son has no asthma and no allergy to milk or eggs at all.

    My mom had me and then 3 kids with no major allergies.

    So who's to say? We're planning our second baby now and honestly all I'm gonna do is what I did with Gavin, breastfeed until he's old enough for solids, make my own baby food, and get the baby tested at a year old.

    It's a scary allergy, but not at all debilitating as diseases I think there are reasons to get genetic consoling but food allergies and asthma that's just being lame lol

  8. I think it is time to get a new doctor.

    When I was only 8 weeks pregnant I went to an OBGYN who informed me that because I was teacher I was more likely to have a child with down syndrome. Seriously? I changed doctors immediately.

    Some doctors are fabulous, some are not. I am sure that you could find many doctors who would fully support your decision to have children without the intervention of a geneticist.

    Good luck!

  9. Our oldest child has no food allergies and our youngest has a whole bunch, I wouldn't trade either of them for the world. You never know- and neither does that doctor!

  10. I agree. Get a new doc.

    I don't have severe allergies and DH has asthma. We have a child with severe food allergies. I can't imagine not having him around and happen to think that his life is pretty wonderful regardless of the food allergies.

    I also have Crohn's Disease and have had many people tell me that it is slightly selfish to have children knowing that I could pass the disease on to them.

    You and your husband have to do your own research and weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

    I happen to believe that heredity plays a very small role in all of these problems and that environment and immune system have everything to do with it.

  11. The first thing I thought of was- this doctor is an idiot and should consider not procreating as he may pass that onto his child!

    My second (more rational and mature) thought is there are a lot of factors that go into such an important decision such as having a child. They need to speak to their allergist to get some facts and then decide what they can/cannot risk or handle.

    From what I have been told is that allergies can run in families, but there is not a 100% correlation or transmittance (meaning if you have them, it does not guarantee your child will or if they do, have the same allergies). I was told that if you have a child with allergies, there is an increased chance you will have another child with allergies, though again, it is not certain and the increased chance is not grossly evident. That said, both of my kids have the same exact food allergy- our allergist surprised. We deal with it and are comfortable dealing with it.

  12. Wow, oh wow! Crazy doctors! I would never even think about that. Who cares.

    Also the comment from Mama (Stacy) about teachers haveing babies with downs syndrome...that cracked me up. Where in the world did that doctor get that from? Well, I can only guess where. Stupid. I read it to my husband and he said he would have turned and walked us right out of that office.

    In conclusion, sometimes you can only take doctors OPINIONS with a grain of salt.

  13. Grace,

    I said many of the same things you all said. I said of course we would have had K. and our other children o matter what. I talked about people with much worse conditions who are happy to be alive, I said that scientists are working on a cure, and I quoted my husband, who said, "God decides, not the doctor."

  14. Oh! Also, my friend is so thankful for all of your comments and support. She feels much better.

  15. Though I already commented, I forgot to some info. Because we had a severely food allergic (and now asthmatic) first child, I did a lot of research (which seems to always be changing) and made some decisions that I thought might possibly help child #2 avoid the food allergy thing. During my second pregnancy I avoided nuts. As far as I know, peanuts are the only food that there is SOME evidence indicating that consumption during pregnancy might contribute to development of allergy. (I ate so much peanut butter during my first pregnancy it was crazy and that was one allergy my first born did NOT have). I breastfed exclusively (no solid food at all) until 8 1/2 months (I might have gone longer but she was ready - reaching for our food). I did not give her any dairy products until she was 2 1/2, no eggs til 1 1/2, no nuts til 3. (It should be noted that now there may be evidence that delayed introduction of foods might not be a good idea!)

    I guess what I am saying is that its all a crap shoot. Research suggests one thing today and another next week. I did what I thought best for baby #3 and it seemed to work out since she at almost 4 years old appears to have no food allergies. But who knows if it was anything I did or not??!

  16. That doctor's a quack! I would NEVER want to go back in time and give Kayla up b/c of her allergy and that says it all! No one wants a food allergic child, but it's not something that would stop me from having a child even if I had known. You just have to be diligent and on top of things.

    I'm still shaking my head over her doc...