Monday 9 February 2015

Hidden Egg Challenge Allergy Testing

Blondie Boy was diagnosed with an egg allergy just shortly after his first birthday and he's been having yearly allergy tests at Yorkhill children's hospital since then. This year he tested positive but his reaction was less than previous years so we were referred for a hidden egg challenge. I'd never heard of a hidden egg challenge or read anything about it so I thought it might be useful to other allergy parents if I shared our experience.

A hidden egg challenge sounds like a cool Easter egg hunt but it is really just an extended form of allergy test. While his yearly tests consist of a droplet of egg being placed on his arm, this would use cake to see if he could handle well cooked, hidden egg--things like cakes, cookies, dried pasta, etc. It was almost two month from the allergy clinic giving him a referral until we got had his appointment for the challenge. Of course we woke up to the most snow we'd had in years the morning of his appointment but after really bad road conditions we made it.

The test itself took place on a ward in the hospital; Blondie Boy was weighed when we arrived and given a hospital bracelet and was not allowed to leave the ward until the testing was done. It was the same ward he had his original testing in over 4 years ago. After asking us some initial questions and listening to his chest (he had a cough and they needed to check it wasn't in his chest) we started the challenge.

First up he got cake plastered to his arm:

BB was actually a bit anxious about this but I told him the worst that would happen was his arm might get a bit itchy and he was a lot better. The nurse literally stuck some cake on his arm and covered it with a clear dressing. Then back to the waiting room where there were all sorts of toys, colouring in pages, a full size play house and more. Blondie Boy was also offered a Nintendo DS to play with and could have watched a DVD on a portable player if he wanted (bad Mom and Dad forgot the iPad in all the snow craziness) as well.

He didn't have any reaction on his arm so we moved on to the next stage which consisted of the nurse rubbing cake around his mouth:

Why is it that boys always have the darkest, longest lashes? It's not fair but I digress. It seems so silly but it is what is done. He continued playing with a mucky face until the nurse came back to check and again he had no reaction so we moved on.

From here he was given small bits of cake to eat in increasingly larger portions. I don't have any pictures but all the bits of cake could fit on a spoon. I'd say he probably had 4-5 rounds of cake on a spoon but I can't say for sure because I was alone with BB (who was a super star) and Baby Girl (who was not) so I didn't take notes.

After he had the last bit of cake (and by this point he didn't want any more) he was allowed to eat and drink as normal and we entered a 2 hour observation period. They gave him a cheese sandwich, yoghurt and crisps (again bad Mom and Dad forgot the lunch we were supposed to pack). The two hour wait is rough; it probably wouldn't have been so bad if it was just me and BB or if NBH had been with us the whole time but alone with a cranky 4 month old it was rough.

There were a few other children having testing at the same time for different allergens; one little girl had a reaction and basically if that happens they give your child their medicine, you have to wait for an hour and then you're done for the day. At one point one of the nurses thought BB had had a reaction but I was convinced he'd just scratched his face. Luckily they retried him with the same amount and he had no reaction so the test kept going.

It's a long five hours but the staff at Yorkhill are all really lovely and being a children's hospital they are set up to cater to children. There is a whole huge closet full of games, toys, markers, DVDs--all sorts of fun stuff to keep your child entertained so it wasn't that big of a deal when we forgot to bring the iPad. Also the nurses were really nice and showed me to a room when I wanted to breastfeed Baby Girl and there was baby change facilities in the disabled bathroom.

Since BB had no reactions at all he is now allowed well-cooked egg; 48 hours after testing you are allowed to introduce two new items at a time like cakes, cookies, pastries brushed with egg, dried pasta, Milky Way bars, etc. He is still allergic to eggs and can't have egg but that he can now have a bit of birthday cake at a friend's party is just amazing. I'm really hoping this is a sign he is growing out of his egg allergy.

We let him choose his first hidden egg treat and he's a boy after my own heart--he went with a chocolate donut. When you've not been allowed one for 5 years it is perfectly acceptable to eat it in the car on the way home.

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Melaina25 said...

Wow! I've never heard of this type of testing, but I'm so pleased that it exists and that BB can have a few treats now. I would have totally gone for the doughnut too.

Melaina25 said...

I hadn't heard of it either! I got him a wee cupcake from Gregg's when he was sick this weekend which is such a novelty to me because I could never just grab him a treat off the shelf to cheer him up before. It seems silly but it's such a huge change for us.

Melaina25 said...

Congrats to BB on his egg challenge! T has been doing egg immunotherapy and has successfully gone from 1/40th of a well-cooked egg to being able to tolerate up to 1 whole well-cooked egg in a sitting. He passed his whole egg challenge a few months ago. I was told to still be careful with cakes at birthday parties as an icing or filling made with eggs (like a meringue-type icing or a lemon curd filling) would not be considered well-cooked enough for him to tolerate at this point, but with time the allergist was confident we will get there even with those.

Melaina25 said...

Love those last two pictures of him with the donut- too cute!

Melaina25 said...

That's a good point Jeanne thank you!

Melaina25 said...

He was so excited!

Melaina25 said...

Aww what a wee dude. Love his first choice. Fingers crossed he outgrows it x

Melaina25 said...

how lovely,, and what a huge difference this will make to his life. As you say just to be able to go to a party and have a piece of cake. Hope it keeps getting better and better.

Melaina25 said...

His second choice is somewhat less of a good one....

Melaina25 said...

Not all donuts have egg in them but most shop-bought ones contain egg or "may contain" egg. He hasn't been allowed to have "may contain" up until now so technically the donut he got didn't have egg, but it *might* have had egg.