Dealing with the possibility of anaphylaxis in twins and triplets

anaphylaxis and twins

Author: Anonymous

We did BLW (Baby Lead Weaning) with our twins. BLW means not worrying about spending ages making different purées and just letting your babies feed themselves. Seriously – who with twins has time to make combinations of pureed sweet potato and peas????

All went really well………………until……………I inadvertently introduced a “high risk allergen” food, without even knowing it! The humble kiwi fruit.

Apparently allergy to kiwi fruit is becoming increasingly common. I had NO IDEA. One day, as I was happily channeling Mary Poppins, and placed a wide variety of finger foods on my 10 month old twins IKEA high chairs…….(Side note – IKEA high chairs are the absolute BOMB – and they fit into the dishwasher!!!). One of these foods was kiwi fruit. I am an avid kiwi fruit eater – I eat them with the skin on, which according to most of my friends is not how it’s meant to be done). In deference of their tender age, peel the kiwi and place two quarter “fingers” on each child tray, among other foods.

I happily went about my business of doing the never-ending kitchen cleaning (my kitchen window overlooks the back deck where the twins were eating their lunch) when I noticed my daughter coughing and grabbing her tongue. Immediately I went out and she was drooling a lot – and this kid never really drooled. I offered her some water, which she drank, then she merrily continued on her cheeky twin way and leaned over and grabbed her twins kiwi fruit off his tray.

She ate half before she started gagging and fisting her mouth. I thought that maybe the kiwi was too acidic, so took it off her and gave her some more water. She continued to drool and grab at her tongue. I wasn’t sure if maybe I should breastfeed her to try to alkalise the acidity. So I called 13 HEALTH (Twinfo note: 13 HEALTH provides qualified health advice—it is not a diagnostic service and should not replace medical consultation. In an emergency always dial 000.).

twins anaphylaxis

After explaining what was happening (the drooling and grabbing of the tongue) the lovely Child Health Nurse that assisted me asked “Is that your child making that barking sound?”. To which I replied “Yes, I’ve not heard her make that sound before”. At this, she said “I don’t meant to alarm you Mum, but I am just going to place you on hold and call an ambulance”. To which I instantly obviously freaked out.

The lovely ambulance guys arrived really quickly – and the 13HEALTH lady stayed on the phone with me until they arrived). They ended up staying at my house for at least 45 minutes monitoring her, and decided she was fine and didn’t need to go to hospital. They advised me not to feed her kiwi again until she was at least 2 years old, as a lot of children apparently grow out of their allergies and to go to our GP for a referral for allergy testing.

Onwards and upwards………our FABULOUS GP immediately referred us for allergy testing. This was completed and came up “inconclusive” to kiwi fruit. Which meant we had to undertake an “oral challenge”; I decided that it was easier to bury my head in the sand and hold off. In the mean time I was hyper-vigilant and we safely avoided all further kiwi fruit. When the twins turned three (and were at a kindy that provided food), I decided we needed to sort this out once and for all, and with great trepidation I booked the oral challenge. Off we went…….twin two was in tow, as I had no one to look after him.

When we arrived I was “reassured” that an ICU nurse was running the challenge. We were undertaking the challenge with another little girl who was two and was being tested with peanuts, obviously her family had listened to the “when she is two rule”! As we sat and “experienced the kiwi fruit in the atmosphere” I admitted to the ICU nurse that our boy twin had never been exposed to kiwi fruit either (remember…….girl twin had cheekily scoffed her kiwi and reached over and taken boy twins kiwi fruit).. He very kindly agreed to include the boy twin in the oral challenge as well……WHOO HOO I thought – finally the “buy one, get one free” line that random strangers in the supermarket felt the need to sprout at me was coming true!!!

The challenge began with being exposed to kiwi in the air, then touching it on their arms, then on their lips, then on their tongue, then having ¼ of a teaspoon full of fresh kiwi juice, then having a sliver of fresh kiwi in their mouth, then having a bite of kiwi…etc etc etc until they ate a whole kiwi.

This “challenge” took place in a confined room (with lots of toys thankfully) and each “challenge” was spaced 30 minutes apart with intensive obs being taken every 5 minutes between. It was a L-O-N-G day. I am though, eternally grateful for their attention to detail and I am even more grateful that both children passed the challenge.

We were discharged from hospital with the instructions to ensure that they both ate at least two kiwi fruit a week, as apparently this would assist in warding off any further reaction. As a result, even though they are now six, I always ensure several kiwi fruit are in the trolley each week. The best news is that I now just top and tail them and quarter them……………no need to peel!


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