So my son has some really strange allergies. I’ve already told the story about when we found out about his “Iguana allergy” when he was age four.
Now let’s me tell you about the next allergy I discovered when he was six years old. My son had broken out several times in rashes and he would seem super hyper. I had no idea what was going on. The doctor had no idea what was going on. Of course, being a mom you hold many titles. I switched into my detective mode.
I decided that when he would have a reaction I would have to take note of what he had eaten. However, each time he had a reaction he hadn’t eaten the same foods, etc… I then realized I had to look deeper. I had to look at the ingredients and see if there was a common denominator.
Okay, one day he had a reaction after eating Dorito’s. Another day, he reacted after taking liquid grape tylenol. Lastly, another day he reacted after having a lollipop at school at the Valentine’s Day Party. I went through each ingredient of these three items. What did they all have in common? Red dye!
The allergist we were seeing didn’t seem to believe in my discovery. Once again, another professional making me feel as I should second guess myself. But I always seemed to get over those feelings and followed my gut. I started to feel bad for parents who let the professionals and other people make them hold back from following their instincts. I’m the type of person who takes it all in, listens to what others have to say, then does my own research, and ultimately decides to do what I feel is best.
I didn’t care what the allergist thought and started to do my own research. I searched the internet and to my surprise there was tons of information on people who had red dye allergies or whose children had red dye allergies. There was even a Red Dye Allergy support group!
I learned alot about all kinds of dyes but red dye in particular. For instance, red dye is in so many things you wouldn’t even think. Okay you probably might guess it would be in strawberry twizzlers but why is it in alot of white cake mixes? Also not only is it in your foods but it is in many other products such as some of the clear anti-bacterial soaps. Who knew?
I also learned that Red dye #2 which is also known as cochineal extract or carmine is a dye that is processed from dried insects, particularly the cochineal bug found in the Canary Islands and South America. It is believed to be carcinogenic and hasn’t been used in foods for decades. However, many of the dyes not allowed in foods can still be in your cosmetics or medications. Yes, your medication may contain crushed beetles!
I also learned that Azo dyes are synthetic and are mostly the bright colored dyes such as colors from the reds or yellows. Currently many azo dyes are located on numerous shelves of grocery stores, cosmetic stores and pharmacies located right here in the United States even though there are plenty of studies out there that prove when consumed they can cause very serious health conditions and brain dysfunction and hyperactivity in children.
Interestingly, the color Allura red which is also from the Azo family has been banned from Japan, Sweden, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France, and Switzerland.
As I read it became scarier and scarier and I knew I was right. My son was allergic to red dye. I started to e-mail my husband links to all my research because similar to the doctor’s reaction I had a feeling he wasn’t believing me either. However, in the end I either sold him on my theory or he just knew better then to challenge me. In any event, we eliminated red dyes from our sons diet and he stopped having the strange rashes and reactions.
My son got really great on knowing what he could or could not eat and luckily he was not a huge junk food eater but of course, parties is always where we had to be extra careful (doritos, lollipops, sprinkles on cupcakes or donuts).
I got pretty savvy after an incident where the PTA at the school had provided donuts with sprinkles to all the children for Halloween. I believe I had sent in a non-edible treat for the children (A Halloween Book). Apparently, everyone was eating the donuts but my son knew better not to. He asked the teacher for some of the pretzel’s instead. When he asked for a second helping she told him he shouldn’t be so greedy. I wondered how she could be so insensitive knowing that my son wasn’t able to eat the donuts that all of the class sat eating in front of him. I politely reminded her that he was unable to eat the donut and she really seemed uncaring. If it had been me, I would have felt so bad and given the child the whole jar of pretzels but that is just me.
From that party on, I knew to find out if the PTA would be serving any special treat and of course even if I were to purchase a non-edible item for the class I would always additionally provide a food item for the class parties anyway that everyone could eat. Some years were more difficult then others especially when we had a child in the class that had a peanut allergy in addition to my son’s red dye allergy. It always seemed that they would be able to eat the exact opposites. In any event, I managed to always find something. The kid’s loved it too. I’ll give an example. Instead, of red lollipops or red sprinkled cupcakes for Valentine’s Day I showed up with chocolate covered strawberries. The children really enjoyed that.
So most of the time, things went well but I did run into a few jerks along the way. The following year after my son sat donut-less I contacted the PTA parent in charge of ordering the donuts for the new school year. I asked her to order my son’s donut without sprinkles and explained his allergy. I was surprised when she said she could not “special order” him a donut and refused to do so. I said, “Listen, we’ve never met but do you want our first interaction to be a fight over a DONUT!” I was pissed. She still refused and I said,” It’s not like I am asking for a gluten free donut.” And ended the conversation with, “Well we’ll see about this.”
You also have to take in account my mindset at the time. I was pregnant, had a two and a half year old, and a six plus ten month old and was in constant turmoil over my eldest son’s education. I was super stressed out. So yes, I called the principal over a frigging donut. My son overheard the conversation and said, “It is okay Mommy I don’t need to have a donut.” I said, “That is not the point, it is all about the principle and being considerate to others .” I must admit the principal was very nice and surprised about the other parents behavior and she assured me that not only one donut would be ordered for my son without sprinkles but she would make sure at least two dozen donuts were ordered without sprinkles in the event that another child may have a similar allergy or for the fact that some children may just not like sprinkles. I must admit I never had another argument over a donut with a PTA mother after that and to be honest my son never even ate his donut on that day either.
However, I won the donut battle and I also began my educational campaign on allergies to provide awareness to parents and staff on allergies in school.
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT