A discussion that comes up weekly in clinic is reflection on how a parents initial concerns and/or a child’s symptoms eventually led to an allergy diagnosis. The story always differs but can vary between;
Almost immediate certainty about possible food allergy (more common with IgE/immediate reactions) where consumption of a food e.g. peanuts leads to evident or ‘more recognisable’ allergic symptoms like hives, vomiting, swelling
🤔Confusion & uncertainty
“is this allergy?” Knowing that something’s “not right” Difficult symptoms to interpret such as stool changes, reflux or eczema (all of which can be common in infancy/childhood), some of all of which might be delayed onset
Multiple GP visits (research shows that children with CMPA can take an average of 5 GP visits to get diagnosis/referral)
Ultimately, no matter the starting point or journey it can be a frustrating, scary & difficult time for parents to navigate.
As a health professional working with allergy parents I’ve shared some helpful things to consider and information to take along to an initial appointment with your GP (and/or specialist appointment). It can be hard to remember everything, so writing it down often helps:
1️⃣ What age did you first see or suspect symptoms? (A timeline can be helpful)
2️⃣ What symptoms & when?
Have they got progressively worse/changed?
Are they present every time after consumption of suspected allergen?
Do they go away?
What makes them go away & how quickly?
📖 A food/feed and symptom diary can be really helpful here! I’ve done a post on this already (below) & @allergy_uk have a fab template you can print & use
📷 Pictures or videos of symptoms e.g. nappies, skin rashes, your baby during or after a feed can be really helpful too
📕Red book- helpful to check growth & any comments from other HCPs your little one has seen e.g. health visitor
3️⃣Is there any history of atopy (allergic disease) within your family e.g. eczema, asthma, hay fever, food allergy
4️⃣ What changes (if any) have you already made? Did they have any impact for better or worse? e.g. lots of parents with formula fed babies have often trialled different brands of milk, anti reflux options or mothers of BF babies have already started to eliminate dairy from their own diets.
5️⃣ Referring to trusted information sources such as NHS website, allergy UK & anaphylaxis campaign can be helpful to support symptom interpretation before a visit. I’ve had families take along the information sheets highlighting the key points in line with their child’s symptoms/history
Lucy Upton RD – Dietetic Lead