Rare food allergy affects babies, toddlers

Saturday, May 9, 2015
Rare food allergy affects babies
A rare food allergy, FPIES, is found in very young children

Chloe Fofaria is learning to take her first steps and how to eat new foods. But, just hours after her first solid meal, she became violently ill.

"She woke up, and she started vomiting profusely to the point where she couldn't stop," said Chloe's mother, Chantelle.

New parents Chantelle and Raj rushed her to a nearby hospital. Doctors diagnosed Chloe with the flu and sent her home.

One week later, it happened again.

"It's really frustrating because you know it's not a virus, but you don't know what it is," said Raj.

"It was terrifying, just the thought that I can't feed my daughter. I don't know what to feed my daughter, and what's happening is really scary," said Chantelle.

After meetings with doctors and hours of research, Chloe was diagnosed with a rare food allergy, Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), which affects the stomach and intestines.

Unlike typical food allergies, the symptoms are not immediate and do not show up on standard allergy tests.

There is no cure for the disorder. Children who suffer from FPIES typically outgrow it by ages 3 or 4.

Dr. Amy Stallings, a pediatric allergist at Duke Children's Hospital, said she is seeing more cases.

"As the food is digested the immune system essentially rejects that food, and so as that happens, the child starts throwing up. We really don't know what causes it. We do know that there are certain foods that are more common," said Dr. Stallings.

Triggers can include dairy, soy, rice, and oats, which are foods typically introduced when a baby is learning to eat solids.

Chloe is now taking part in food clinics at Duke to figure out what she can and cannot eat.

A national video campaign called the Pie in the Face Challenge is spreading awareness about the disorder on social media.

The Foforias hope other parents will take notice.

"Any awareness and information that can come out is a pie well spent," said Raj.

To learn more about FPIES visit http://fpiesfoundation.org/

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