Thursday, September 4, 2008

Encouraging News from the Peanut Gallery

My little peanut at 6 months on a rainy afternoon in Bodie.

As many of you know, Kiersta is allergic to peanuts.  We found out just after her second birthday when Brian gave her some peanut butter on a rice cake; Kiersta immediately broke out in hives.  At that time we met with a pediatric allergist and had a blood test done to confirm our fears.  Kiersta scored a 3.2 on the allergy scale.  What the heck does that mean? Basically, someone who scores 15 or above is pretty much 100% sure of going into anaphylaxis if peanuts are consumed.  A score of 2 or below means that a person essentially has no allergy. The 3.2 means that Kiersta has a chance of going into anaphylaxis but the chances are quite slim, however we do carry Epipens (epinephrin shots) with us everywhere we go.  The allergist believes that Kiersta has a good chance of growing out of her allergy.

As a result, we religiously read food labels to find out if foods are "processed in a plant that processes peanuts," "is processed on a line that processes peanuts," or actually "contains peanuts."  All of these categories are off limits.  We've managed to get her daycare to stop serving peanut butter and educated many people, ourselves included, on peanut allergies.

Recently I went grocery shopping.  I was, as usual, reading labels and looking for foods without peanuts.  I picked up a box of Strawberry Chex and a box of Chocolate Chex (I know, I know, not the healthiest choices).  The Strawberry Chex contained peanut flour, the chocolate cereal did not.  I thought that was strange but went ahead and bought the chocolate cereal.  I gave Kiersta a bowl of it the next morning for breakfast, she loved it.  The next day Brian was about to give her a bowl but was double checking the ingredients and saw that it actually contained peanut flour!  You may be asking yourself, "How in the world did this happen with all of the label reading that happens in this family?"  Well, I'll tell you.  The Chocolate Chex had a sample packet of mocha flavored Chex Mix seasoning inside.  The ingredients for the sample packet were printed on one side of the box, the ingredients for the cereal were on the other side panel. When I picked up the box, I read the sample side.  Why the manufacturer put sample ingredients on the side panel, I'll never understand.  I was trying to be responsible, but obviously I screwed up.  The good news though is that Kiersta did not have any kind of reaction! :)

Which leads to the events of today.  Because there was no allergic reaction we thought that maybe, just maybe our ordeal is over.  Today we met with Kiersta's allergist for the first time in 2 1/2 years.  I expected to just go in and talk and set up a follow up appointment for actual testing.  To my surprise, the doctor offered to have a scratch test done right then and there.  I quickly agreed.  Kiersta was also agreeable until she realized she was going to get poked on her arm and then attempted to fight off the nurse.  The nurse was ultimately successful in scratching Kiersta three times initially and then 2 more when there wasn't enough liquid in the histamine and control scratches.  The histamine spot formed a hive.  The control stayed clear as did the peanut spot!  This is VERY good news.  It looks like Kiersta may be peanut allergy free. The next step is an "oral challenge" in the allergist's office where she'll have to eat dry-roasted peanuts while being monitored.  Kiersta doesn't want to do this because she thinks she won't like peanuts. While Kiersta may never be a fan of peanuts or peanut butter, it will be so nice if we can go through life without having to be so careful all the time.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.


  1. Hey Christie. Same story with Ashton when he was younger, though I have to admit that we were never careful like you about the whole allergy. The allergy was discovered through allergy testing in the first place; he had never had an adverse reaction. We were told it was "mild" and to avoid peanut products. So, I didn't give him peanut butter, peanut oil, peanuts, or foods that were clearly peanut-related. But I never checked labels. Eventually a couple of years later he was retested and was completely clear. They didn't make him eat peanuts in the office, which is a good thing because he would have refused- LOL. That was probably four years ago, and to this day he will not touch peanut products. He says he doesn't like it when in fact he just has no memory of it. May be the same for Kiersta. In an case, just wanted to share as someone whose been there but also affirm that you guys have done such an excellent job looking out for her, label reading, making provisions at parties, etc. That's a lot of work. I hope she can be allergy-free now!!! And if you have the energy or ire, I would raise hell with corporate of Chex (whoever makes them). What if that same understandable error kills some kid???

  2. YEAH!! This is great news! I do hope she will eat a peanut or two at the dr and not show any reaction what so ever. That would make life so much easier for you, and a little bit for me too.