Red dye sensitivity

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by hippychickmommy, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. hippychickmommy

    hippychickmommy Sugar and Spice

    With it being Valentine's Day over the weekend, I did my usual all-out celebration for the kids...and one of the star players in our weekend was red food coloring.

    Funny, but as I was crafting a sandwich with a painted on red heart, I thought to myself...hmmm, I hope the kids can tolerate this dye. Why I thought that out of the blue was kind of bizzarre, considering I've used red dye before on Valentine's Day, or even in cake icings other times of the year.

    I guess it was mother's instinct.

    About an hour after my oldest son ate his entire sandwich, he comes to me complaining that he's itching. His face is red and blotchy, he has hives on his neck. I lift up his shirt and find more hives on his chest, his back, his arms.

    I panic, because his face and lips look a little swollen, but I calmly run him a warm bath with a sock full of oatmeal to help with the itching (and to calm him down because he was getting really upset) and then I put some lotion on his skin. Topped that off with a dose of Benadryl. He said that other than the itching, he felt fine. (I was concerned about breathing issues of course)

    About half an hour later, the hives were completely gone, no more itching, his skin color had returned to normal.

    That night, I scraped the red icing off of the cake we had because I didn't want to push issues, thinking that he had a sensitivity to red dye. He was fine.

    The next night, he ate another piece of cake. I didn't scrape the red off this time. Guess what. Not much later, he had hives again, although not nearly as bad, since there had been a lot less dye this time. Did the same process I had before...the bath, the lotion, the Benadryl. Boom. Completely gone.

    I did however notice a change in his behavior during this whole situation. He was extremely irritable on the day that he had the most dye. Almost intolerable, very hostile, moody.

    Anybody else have kids with sensitivites like this? He's all worked up about it, I told him that it's no big deal, just that we're going to want to avoid red dye (which we normally do anyway).

    Poor kid. :(
  2. mamaKCita

    mamaKCita fucking stupid.

    my kids can't do the red and yellow food dyes. i avoid them completely. i think a lot of the issues attributed to ADHD and such can be directly traced back to the increased usage and consumption of these toxic food dyes.
  3. hippychickmommy

    hippychickmommy Sugar and Spice

    I's amazing how food allergies/sensitivities can create such a variety of symptoms. I couldn't get over how much food intolerances can mimic ADD/ADHD. It really makes you think.

    I often wonder if there are more food allergies or intolerances that my kids have that I'm not picking up on. It would explain some things, that's for sure.
  4. homeschoolmama

    homeschoolmama Senior Member

    I have had an allergy to yellow dyes all my life. And my daughter & I share a sensitivity to red dyes. Yellow #5 is actually in the same chemical-family as aspirin. There's a big complicated scientific explanation about how that's possible, I just know it's true & I can't touch the stuff.

    Red #40 has been an issue for families for years. When I was a little girl, my mama put us all on the "Feingold Diet" which is basically just avoiding all artificial colors & flavors. It helped a LOT with our allergies! I am doing the same with my kids now... not exactly sticking with feingold-only foods, but steering clear of those reds, yellows & other scary ingredients that are known to cause problems. It has helped a TON with my daughter's attention span, and my son's Aspergers syndrome!

    Some people say it's all in our heads & that these colors don't actually do anything. I work with about 125 kids from age 3-13 every week, and I can tell you that there is a HUGE difference between the nights when the kids get something like apple cider, and a red cool-aid type juice. And people have argued that it could be the sugar... but when the kids have sugar cookies and the ones who eat the blue-frosted ones are far less hyper than the ones who eat the red-frosted ones... that's pretty difinitive to me.
  5. mamaKCita

    mamaKCita fucking stupid.

    you know, i didn't know there was a name for avoiding all these artificial dyes and stuff, but after watching our daughters turn all kinds of freaky, we've been doing it.

    and my daughters prefer making noodles by hand, anyway.
  6. hippychickmommy

    hippychickmommy Sugar and Spice

    So KC and homeschoolmama, did you have your children tested for food allergies, or did you learn by trial and error?

    I guess I'm wondering if I should take him to a pediatric allergist or not. I actually think that all three of my kids may have allergy issues, although with different reactions. Like my younger son and daughter have eczema problems quite often for example...I wonder if it may be something in their diet, although my husband has issues with eczema as well, so I thought maybe it was just a tendency they inherited?

    I just found out yesterday that my grandmother has a gluten sensitivity. Never knew that!

    My father is allergic to dairy products. I have issues with dairy myself, I get horrible stomach cramps if I consume more than a little in a day.

    My also uncle has a long list of food allergies.
  7. jestelle

    jestelle Member

    my youngest daughter has an intolerance for red dye. she gets very irritable and her cheeks get super red. it's amazing how many items have those nasty dyes in it.

    we figured it out by trial and error and now i just do my best to keep it out of our home and make sure those around her know that she's allergic.
  8. mamaKCita

    mamaKCita fucking stupid.

    our kids were specifically behavioral. i couldn't understand how they could go from sweet but troublesome to screaming banshess completely immune to reason or concern. i read about food dye intolerances, yellow #5 specifically, when dave was bruching up on his nutrition. sure enough, the symptoms and patterns were SPOT ON. as soon as we stopped eating anything with yellow #5 in it, my kids went back to being simply rambunctious.

    their intolerances were mixed, though. joey would get VICIOUS skin dryness and discomfort. to the point that her eyelids would peel, and the skin right under her eyes would crack. we tried everything, mineral oil, olive oil, there were some lubricating eye drops that we had to use for the skin around her eyes, etc. but as soon as we stopped eating food dyes, it went away and hasn't come back.
  9. homeschoolmama

    homeschoolmama Senior Member

    Having suffered through allergy testing myself, I'm rather hesitant to put my kids through that particular experience. Allergy tests will ONLY show "true allergies" - those things that cause your histamines to react & have the capability of killing you. So if you "only" have a sensitivity or behavioral reaction to something it won't show up. For example, I used to have a problem with raw bananas... every time I ate them, I would throw up. Yet when I was tested for a banana allergy it did NOT show up! So am I allergic? No, TECHNICALLY my reaction is a simple sensitivity. Does it really matter? Not in real life, no. It doesn't matter WHY you react to something, if you have a problem with something you avoid it regardless of what label the doctor may give your reaction.

    My husband & I, as well as all 4 of our parents & all 3 of our sisters are extremely allergic (yes, medically allergic this time) to penicillin. TECHNICALLY we do not know that my kids are allergic as well. But somehow I just don't think it's worth the risk to try it. Neither do their pediatricians, and we have their medical charts listed with this as a "known" allergy.

    As parents we are constantly forced to make judgment calls on all sorts of things. Whether allergy testing is "worth it" or not is one of these issues. If you're having a tough time tracking down what is causing a reaction or multiple issues, then by all means go ahead... it's a lot easier & quicker than the "guess & chart" method if you suspect multiple problems. But if your kiddo has a known reaction to a known irritant, *I* would simply eliminate that food & call it good enough.
  10. Mom has a point. I mean if you're sure something is bothering your kid chuck it in the trash and call it a day. But if you suspect other things are bothering your child, have them tested. It's easier than feeding them things and waiting for them to react.
  11. yonosoymedico

    yonosoymedico Member

    Yeah, I either had an attack from red food dye or strawberries when i was 3, and have pretty much steered clear of them up until my mid twenties... (i occassionally eat red things, but never strawberry and ive never regretted it, for me its fun to be a lil different! Im pretty sure the red dye was an precaution since the prescription benedryl my doc gave us had red dye in it! haha)

    As my daughter gets older, ill def keep my eye on this, good thread

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