We had a REALLY big event in our family last week – my eight year old Avery who has severe food allergies passed a baked milk challenge! Woot!
Avery has had food allergies since she was a baby, diagnosed at 12 months. Each year she has IgE blood testing to see if her allergy sensitivity increases or decreases. It’s one way to monitor if she will be able to outgrow any of her allergies. Her allergists have suggested that she may, someday, outgrow her milk and egg allergies – although the allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish will likely be lifelong.
The milk numbers have continued to drop each year and this year her allergist said he was comfortable with us performing a baked milk challenge.
It’s not uncommon for children with a milk allergy to be able to eat milk baked into food at a high heat. “Recent evidence suggests that 70–80% of children with IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy will tolerate baked milk products.5 Furthermore, children with milk allergy who tolerate baked milk products may outgrow their milk allergies faster than those who cannot tolerate baked milk,1” according to a published study, Predicting Food Challenge Outcomes for Baked Milk: Role of Specific IgE and Skin Prick Testing.
I was not holding my breath that she would pass the test without a reaction. I’ve witnessed Avery have anaphylaxis after drinking cow’s milk by mistake, which was terrifying. Of course, the possibility of a severe reaction is why food challenges such as these should take place in an allergist’s office or the hospital.
To prepare for the test, we had to bake muffins with cows milk, following a specific recipe from the doctor. I also had to pick up Avery early from school and take a half day off work, as the challenge can take about 4 hours. We brought plenty of electronics to keep her busy and I brought my laptop so I could do some work while we waited.
It had been a number of months since our last visit to the allergist, so the first step was for Avery to have a new milk skin prick test. Here you can see she was staying occupied with a video game while we waited to see the results. Again, I was not holding my breath and thought we might be packing up to go home – but the doctor was impressed with how minimal of a reaction there was and that it was even less than our last visit.
She gave the green light to proceed with the food challenge. They divided up the muffin we brought into a number of portions and started by giving Avery a small amount and then we waited 15 minutes. We watched for any type of possible reaction, which could include hives, vomiting, itchy or swelling mouth or tongue, weakness, coughing, wheezing or drop in blood pressure. Luckily, there was no reaction, so then she was able to have a larger piece, followed by another 15 minute wait. By the end she had a very large piece. Avery loved eating the muffin and kept commenting how great it tasted. After the final piece, we waited a full hour to see if there were any reactions. Since there were no reactions (whew!), the doctor declared she passed her challenge! We were both so excited!
This is when we learned that it was important for Avery to continue eating baked milk every day in order to keep up her tolerance. I wasn’t expecting that! The doctor said that eating the baked milk can help her outgrow her milk allergy totally (meaning she could start consuming liquid milk or cheese, etc) and that we can talk about the possibility of a liquid milk challenge in another 6-12 months. How great!
After passing the food challenge, we headed to the grocery store to pick out some new foods she could now eat! It was very fun for us to look for new baked items, such as crackers and chips. The guidance from the allergist is that the item has to be baked and milk has to be the third or less ingredient on the label and there can be no soft or chewy-centered items (like pancakes, waffles, etc). Every patient and doctor is different, so please check with your own doctor on what works for your particular situation. Her first choice was Goldfish crackers!
I underestimated how big of a change this would be for our entire family. There are two other people in the family who don’t eat milk due to a severe intolerance. Before this, our house was mostly dairy free. Now that Avery needs to continue eating baked milk every day, we need to have these foods in the house. And so I’m looking at new ways to organize the pantry to keep everything organized so that everyone eats food that is safe for them.
Overall, I’m grateful and excited for my kiddo – passing her first food challenge has pretty much rocked her world. She’s so proud and excited for the future. Outgrowing even “half” of an allergy has made a big difference in her view of herself and food allergies. She’s more confident and is excited by how many more food options she has available to her. And for that, I’m humbled and grateful.
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
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