Allergic to all food?
June 1, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

An infant allergic to all foods? Has anybody heard of this?

My sister and I both had an incredibly bizarre condition when we were babies. Essentially, we couldn't tolerate food, with the exception of soy. I haven't been able to find any information on this, and I'd really like to know if it's a rare condition that a few other people have experienced, or if we were just freaks of nature.

It's also pertinent in that I'd like to know how careful I need to be with introducing certain foods to my daughter (who is currently carrying on a conversation with the window). I've already been erring on the side of caution, and I'll be bringing this up in more detail with her pediatrician. It would be fantastic to have something more than a fuzzy anecdote for him. Two fuzzy anecdotes would be much more appreciated, I'm sure.

The details:

This started with me, the oldest, at six months when my mom took me off breast milk and switched to cow's milk. The only symptom was a frightening diaper rash. My mom's description: it was like the poop was really acidic. If she changed my diaper immediately, I would only be very red and sore. If she had to wait a few minutes, I would form white, oozing blisters. The skin would open up and bleed.

The pediatrician ran every test he could think of, and came to no conclusion. I was sent to a pediatric allergist. He did come to a conclusion: I was allergic to food. Don't feed me.

Yes, really.

Six months and Xn tests later, my mom arrived at yet another physician's office and was offended to see an intern. This intern thought the whole thing a great challenge, and suggested she try giving me tiny amounts of one food, working up a tolerance with increasing amounts, and then moving onto another food. At four years of age, with this intern's continued help and support, I was finally weaned off of soy formula. The longest wait was for meats and dairy. (It didn't help that the small town's neighbors and church members, who thought my mom was unusually cruel, slipped food to me whenever possible. A demonstration of the results finally stopped them.)

When my sister showed the same symptoms, my mom knew exactly what to do. It only took two years this time.

Neither of us currently has food allergies, though my sister is a bit lactose intolerant. Our family line carries asthma, eczema, and mild allergies not related to food.

So, have you got anything for me? Does this sound like an actual food allergy, or some sort of GI issue? I've had no luck with Google.
posted by moira to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard of something similar, with a person whose food allergies were so severe that pretty much all they could eat was rice cereal, but it was in a Reader's Digest article or something like 20 years ago, and the individual in question also had severe developmental disabilities.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:53 PM on June 1, 2007

The only anecdote I have on the food part is regarding milk. I switched my baby, Abigail, to a soy milk/regular milk mix on the doctor's recommendations while I waited to be sure my formula was safe (there was a bit of a scare, but it turned out fine). I thought it was weird he would recommend the regular milk, because we've been feeding her soy formula for months now. We fed her that bottle anyway, that night. The next morning at 5:00 she woke up vomiting, and didn't stop vomiting for close to four hours.

As for diaper rash, Abigail also has a huge problem with this. I can only use Huggies or Pampers diapers - the cheaper ones give her a bad diaper rash very quickly. Poo must be cleaned immediately or a bad rash will start that will bleed.

Also on the diaper rash thing, a friend has a baby who cannot eat the meat baby foods because it gives him a horrible rash.

(houseofdanie, what's wrong with soy formula?)
posted by minda25 at 2:55 PM on June 1, 2007

i had something similar when i was a baby. i don't recall my mother mentioning anything about sores, but apparently everything went right through me. my doctor said that it was due to an "underdeveloped digestive tract" or something similar.

I, too, could eat breast milk, but then nothing else. The combination that finally worked was cream of rice cereal diluted with a lot of water. when i could eat that with no reaction for several days less water was added. then, after a few more days the cereal was mixed with very mashed up banana. if i could keep that in long enough to get some nutrients for several days to a week, applesauce was added to the mix. my mom referred to this sweet paste as "tripple delight." after a week of that chicken could be added, and i could also consume a dry cracker. if at any point in this several-week process i got sick, the whole thing would have to be restarted from the beginning.

I think this went on until i was around 2 or 3. i couldn't have dairy until i was in the third grade. now i am fine and tend to eat very spicy and exotic foods (although i still prefer soy milk).
posted by LizardOfDoom at 3:10 PM on June 1, 2007

My daughter (7) has this condition, it's called eosiniphilic gastroenteritis. There are different variants of it but essentially their body sees food as an unwelcome entity and sends white blood cells (eosiniphils) to attack it. Many of these kids are tube fed a special formula called Neocate. I could go on and on but will refer you to, the American Partnership for Eosiniphilic Disorders. I would be happy to answer any questions if you want to contact me privately.
posted by mattholomew at 4:15 PM on June 1, 2007

We put my son on his first solids at 5 months (he was breastfed) and he immediately exhibited GI and allergic-looking reactions (wheezing, rashes, diarrhea, irritability). It always stopped immediately when we took him off the solids. This happened with rice gruel, corn gruel, all babyfoods, bananas, carrots, you name it. We didn't go near any of the typical allergens (wheat, strawberries, etc.) What I read about it at the time (from the library--this was pre-web), basically said he was too young for solid food. we just gave him no solids til he was almost 10 months old, at which time he switched over comfortably, and eventually weaned himself at 13 months.

Doesn't sound as severe as yours, but it was in response to just about everything he ate. My daughter did not exhibit these symptoms.
posted by nax at 4:18 PM on June 1, 2007

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