Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Rookie

When you get over the shock of any diagnosis, the second step is usually the questions. With Scootch's diagnosis of peanut, tree nut, and egg allergy, you bet I had plenty. I felt like an allergy mom rookie, still learning the ropes and afraid to question the inane things out loud for fear that people would scoff or laugh at their absurdity. As the anniversary of his diagnosis approaches, I made a short list of the funny, and surprising things I've thought about in the past year;

- What the heck is a water chestnut? Is it in the nut family and something Scootch could potentially be allergic to?
The water chesnut is an aquatic vegetable, given a nut name for its peculiar appearance. It does not pose a threat to nut allergic individuals.

- Should Scootch be prohibited from playing with acorns?
Oak and chestnut trees belong to the Fagaceae plant family. Although they have some biological similarity to nut trees (cashew, walnut, almond, pecan, etc.), the two plant groups are distinctly separate families. Their allergenic proteins are not the same. That means someone who’s allergic to tree nuts will not automatically be allergic to acorns or chestnuts. But, there are documented cases of anaphylaxis to acorn or chestnut. The greatest danger is if he should happen to ingest any of them. The part that causes the reaction is the inner 'meat', so just picking up a whole acorn shouldn't be too much of a problem if his hands are thoroughly washed afterwards. However, if he does pick up a nut that has been smashed or compromised and then sticks his hands in his mouth at any point, there is the potential for a reaction. So I discourage him from touching them just in case.

- What about pine nuts?
Pine nuts (pignoli nuts) are technically seeds. However some allergic individuals show sensitivity to them.

- Mangos are related to cashews, and plums, cherries, peaches, and nectarines are in the almond family. Should he be avoiding those foods as well?
No. These relationships are viewed as being of a "second cousin" type variety and most allergic individuals have no reactions to the fruit even when allergic to the nut of the same family.

- A coconut is technically a tree nut, but in the palm family. So is that something to avoid as well?
Since coconut is in the palm family, it doesn't cross-react with tree nuts. However the FDA has labeled it as a tree nut in its criteria, and therefore is listed as such in the allergy information. Most nut allergy individuals tolerate coconut fine.

- What about coconut oil in bath products?
Since it is a palm oil, the reaction varies with each individual. Coconut oil is generally deemed safe for topical use for people with nut allergies.

- Shea butter is made from shea nuts, should that be avoided?

- What about nutmeg?
Nutmeg is made from the seed of a fruit bearing tree, so it is not a nut.

- Since peanuts are actually legumes, should I be looking for any legume allergies as well?
Soy beans, lima beans, green beans, and peas, are all included in the legume family, but additonal reactions vary by child. Thankfully, so far, Scootch hasn't shown any sensitivity to other legumes.

- Did you know that some bread crumbs contain eggs?
Not until recently. And I feel guilty for that. Just goes to show that you really need to read EVERY label. Even if common sense tells you that the ingredients should just be stale bread and air.

You get the idea. And unfortunately, I'm still learning. We go in for review in a little over 14 months when Scootch turns 3, and who knows? Maybe I'll get a promotion for all my hard work. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. I can't even imagine trying to remember all of that. Kudos to you for documenting it all.