Food Allergies – All in the Family?

Food-AllergiesFrom reading other eczema and allergy blogs, it seems that sometimes there is no set pattern to who gets the allergies in the family and who does not.  Sometimes all siblings are afflicted, sometimes only one has it very badly.

I have one older brother, and although we both have some variation of allergies, asthma, and eczema (he has asthma worse, I have eczema worse), we are most certainly not equal when it comes to food allergies.  I don’t have any ‘confirmed’ food allergies, and he has a LOT!  When pondering my upcoming desire to do an Elimination Diet, I had to wonder if perhaps I am sensitive to the same foods that my brother is allergic to.

Growing up with my brother, I became an expert label-reader whenever we went to the grocery store.  At a young age, I understood all the ingredients that were derived from dairy.  In restaurants, after he placed his order, all of us would clamor to confirm with the server, “And that isn’t made with butter, right?  Or cream?  Or any dairy or eggs?”

My brother, let’s call him Luke, is allergic to the following:

  • Eggs
  • All dairy
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Peas

As a baby, Luke was allergic to other foods, which he then grew out of.  (There are baby pictures of him with a red, rashy face and hands after eating corn, and I never recall him eating fish until adulthood).  The others, though, he did not grow out of.  I have a vivid memory of young EczemaExcellence and Luke, happily munching Sociables crackers together in the family car and then him promptly throwing up over the back seat (must have had whey or something in them – oops).

My mother got off blessedly free of any of the “atopic triad”, while my dear old dad must have been the carrier since he has all three as well (pretty mild as I’ve known him, although he was very sickly as a child with asthma).  Dad does not have any food allergies save the vague complaint that “Honey makes my mouth itch”.

So it makes me wonder – is there reason to believe that I would be sensitive to the same foods that Luke is allergic to?  I DO eat a lot of nuts and beans, but haven’t linked them directly to any ill effects.  And, while dairy DOES seem to be linked to making me itch, eggs seem to be quite benign (I recently ate six eggs in a 24 hour span and noticed no difference in symptoms).

Do allergies, food or otherwise, run in your family?  Do you and your parents/siblings have similar or different food sensitivities/allergies?

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4 thoughts on “Food Allergies – All in the Family?

  1. Courtney says:

    Interesting piece. Out of my three sisters, I am the only one with the trifecta! The sister right below me used to have minor food allergies, but she grew out of all of them. She also used to (maybe still does a little bit?) have eczema, but going gluten-free pretty much completely took it away! I wish my body had responded the same way.

    The weird thing is neither of my parents have food allergies, and none of my grandparents do either. I have no idea where mine came from. I wonder if your food allergies are related to your brothers. Have you been skin tested for the things he is allergic to?

  2. Amanda says:

    No one in my immediate family has any food sensitivities or asthma!!! My full brother has hay fever, as does my mother. My maternal grandmother has food allergies, but no eczema. The person I know as my paternal grandmother (there has been a debate as to whether my father is really my father), has eczema and asthma.

    • Interesting that you would be the only one, Amanda, in your immediate family with these things… especially with celiac disease! (Does celiac tend to run in families like eczema and asthma?)

  3. Lucky us, eh Courtney??!? LOL. I HAVE been skin tested for dairy and egg – both showed up negative with the skin prick test. This was about 5 years ago when I started feeling like there was a correlation between dairy and my eczema. The allergist was a very nice guy who was careful to explain that I may well have food ‘sensitivities’ or “intolerances” that would never show up on this type of skin prick allergy test, though.

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