Oral Food Challenge for Milk: Passed (My Final Blog Post)

Milk food challenge
Last month, Swissinfo.ch published an op-ed I wrote about living with food allergies. Here’s an update to that piece and my final post on this blog:

I have good news! My 3-year old son recently had his seventh oral food challenge—this time for cold cow’s milk. According to his pediatric allergist, he “passed” the test. Going forward, he must consume no more than 150 ml of milk every day for the next 3 months.


Evaluating the Results

Similar to the results for my son’s food challenge for raw egg, the little guy broke out in hives around his mouth almost immediately after the first dose of cold milk. After each subsequent dose (five in all), I made sure to wash his face with cold water. Thankfully, the hives lessened, but midway through the test, my son’s demeanor seemed to change a bit. He started to look tired, laying down on the bed. I was sure the test would be a failure.

Then another food allergy parent, who was also at the hospital monitoring a food challenge, pulled out an iPad. My little guy perked up, and we seemed to be back on track. All other symptoms seemed normal—blood pressure, heart rate, etc. We continued with the test.

For the last dose, the nurse kindly mixed the milk with Caotina (a popular Swiss chocolate powder for making hot cocoa). My son used a straw and slurped it up in record time. He was happy and back to his normal rambunctious self.

When it was all over, my son’s pediatric allergist declared the test a success, describing his current condition as atopic dermatitis (i.e., eczema) with a contact reaction to milk. Apparently, he no longer has a true food allergy to milk. Even though he can safely consume milk (at least in small doses, to start), his skin can still react when it comes into contact with milk.


Next steps…

At this point, my son doesn’t have any food allergies. The allergist told me it’s no longer necessary to carry along two epinephrine auto-injectors, everywhere we go. He needs to maintain his daily dose of milk, to avoid recurrence of the allergy. It’s what we’ve been waiting and hoping for since we first learned of his milk allergy in 2012. I still can hardly believe it.

Given these latest developments, I will no longer maintain this blog. Our son’s food allergy journey has ended (fingers crossed!), but I know it continues for so many others. If you ever have questions about living with food allergies, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. I’m happy to try and help.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been reading Dairy-Free Switzerland and sharing your advice and kind words. I started this blog as a virtual support group because I didn’t know anyone with food allergies in Switzerland when we moved here nearly 3 years ago.

It’s been such a pleasure connecting with you all and learning from your experiences. I’ve heard from so many wonderful people living with food allergies both here in Switzerland and around the world. Also, I have to mention all the other food allergy bloggers out there who’ve helped me along the way. Your support has been invaluable.

As always, I hope you get some good news about food allergies too—whether it be outgrowing them, participating in a clinical trial or hopefully, one day there will be a cure!

Finally, if you’re looking to reach out to others living with food allergies in Switzerland, please contact the aha! Swiss Allergy Center or check out my recent blog post on Swiss support groups.

Many thanks, and best wishes to you all!

-Heddi

P.S. I will still be running the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon in London this fall to raise money for Allergy UK. For more information and to make an online donation, please check out my JustGiving page. Thank you so much!

P.P.S. If you’re interested in continuing to follow my cooking and baking adventures in Switzerland, I’ve started a new Swiss food blog: Cuisine Helvetica.

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Swiss National Day of Allergy 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Today marks the seventh National Day of Allergy in Switzerland. Organized by aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse, this year’s event focuses on the relationship between allergies and skin, particularly during times of leisure, such as traveling or participating in sports activities. To increase awareness of allergies, aha! will be presenting images related to this year’s theme and sharing informational materials at seven train stations across Switzerland: Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Locarno, Lucerne and Zurich.

Image source: aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse

As part of its focus on skin, allergies and leisure in 2015, aha! is promoting several of its programs and activities related to this theme, such as its allergy-friendly camps for children and translation cards for traveling. Also, aha! offers training courses for parents of children with atopic eczema. At least two of these courses are planned for Suisse Romande this fall. Finally, aha! has lots of materials on allergies available via its website to help further this year’s message: “une bonne information et prévention pour une meilleure qualité de vie” (i.e., good information and prevention for a better quality of life).

For more information:

Food Allergy Support Groups in Switzerland

Outside of the doctor’s office, when you’re in need of some additional food allergy support and advice from people who can relate to your situation, there are several patient groups in Switzerland that can help. I’m highlighting three of them below—and each represents a different language—French, English or German.

Group’s name: Founded in: Primary language: How to find them:
Allergissima
2014 French
Switzerland Food Allergy Network 2015 English
  • Facebook
    (closed group)*
Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie 2011 German
  • Website (in German and English)
  • Facebook (closed group, “Forum  Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie”)*

*For Facebook’s closed groups, you can search for the group name while logged into Facebook and request permission to join the group.


Allergissima

Allergissima was started by Anita Fossaluzza Schopfer, who you may already know from the allergy-friendly cookbook she published in 2012: Recettes pour faire la nique aux allergies. Her son was originally diagnosed with 13 different food allergies. This organization is working to improve the quality of life for people living with food allergies and intolerances. Some example activities include organizing or participating in conferences and preparing articles or other written materials on food allergies.

You can learn more about Allergissima by visiting its website, Facebook page or sending an email to info@allergissima.ch.


Switzerland Food Allergy Network

Of these three support groups, Switzerland Food Allergy Network is the newest one. Using a closed group on Facebook, it allows members to join and share information privately about current research, allergy-friendly restaurants and allergist recommendations, for example. Ali, an American who lives in the canton of Vaud, started the group to help connect with other English-speakers living with food allergies in Switzerland. She has a 4-year old son who was diagnosed with 18 different food allergies at 10 months of age.

To request membership to the Switzerland Food Allergy Network, you can do so by searching for the group’s name via Facebook.


Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie

I’ve written about Verein Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie (i.e., “Peanut allergy and anaphylaxis club“) before, as this group’s founder, Angelica Dünner earned an aha! award in October 2014 from the Centre d’Allergie Suisse. Like the other group’s founders mentioned above, she is also the mother of a child with food allergies. This group provides information for and about food allergy sufferersprimarily individuals with peanut allergy and those who experience anaphylaxisand for parents of children with such allergies.

For more information about this group, you can visit their website, request membership to their closed group via Facebook (“Forum Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie”) or contact them directly with your questions.


Additional resources
:

  • In Switzerland, if you would like to start your own food allergy support group or locate existing groups, you can contact La Fondation Info-Entraide Suisse, which helps people who want to start self-help groups for a variety of health-related topics.
  • In the United Kingdom, Allergy UK maintains a support contact network of individuals who can provide support and advice to people living with food allergies.
  • In the United States, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has information to help people start their own support groups or you can use its online search tool to identify existing support groups in your area.

If you know of any other food allergy support groups in Switzerland, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Finally, you may have seen that I’m raising funds for Allergy UK by running in the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon in October 2015. Is there any chance you would consider sponsoring me? If so, I would really appreciate it if you would make an online donation via my JustGiving page. Thanks in advance for your help!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!