We had left our 6-month check-up with our daughter’s pediatrician and we were so excited about starting solid foods with her! Our pediatrician recommended starting with baby oatmeal which is what I had also heard was one of the best first solid food to start with. So, that night my husband and I made a bowl of oatmeal, got our phones out to take a video of her eating her first bites, and smiled at each other enjoying this new milestone together. After eating a few bites she was done but we were so proud of her! Following eating, we did bath time and then put our beautiful baby in her bed to sleep the night away.
Downstairs, we chatted and finished dinner dishes. Our usual evening routine. Then we heard a scream. It was not a typical noise our daughter made. Yes, she woke up and would cry but this scream was a scream of fear. My husband and I dropped everything and ran upstairs to see our baby girl COVERED in vomit. She was scared and so were we! We were not sure what was wrong? Was she sick? Was her acid reflux acting up?
We quickly scooped her up calmed her, gave her another bath, changed her into new jammies and then she fell back asleep. Needless to say, we did not sleep well that night. I took the next day off from work thinking she might have the stomach bug but she was completely fine the whole next day, her happy, go-lucky self. Huh, must have been her reflux.
Later that week, we decided to try some oatmeal again at dinner time. This time, she ate a whole bowl. Woohoo! Following dinner, we did our typical bedtime routine and she was happy as a clam. My husband rocked her to sleeping and was enjoying his snuggles when all of a sudden she projectile vomited all over him. This happened almost exactly 2 hours after eating. Weird, I thought, that was about the same time she threw up earlier that week.
I carried her into the bathroom for another bath and new pajamas while my husband showered and cleaned up the rocker. We got her out of the tub, into her new jammies and she threw up again. And again. And again. This continued 8 times in one hour. The poor baby was being held over the sink dry heaving.
We were panicking. We called the doctor on call and they said it was probably a stomach bug and to monitor her and give her extra fluids. However, I felt like this was not just a stomach bug. Throwing up 9 times in 1 hour is NOT typical. So, I did some research, made an appointment with our pediatrician, and finally got an answer.
The first question that popped into my head may be similar to yours, what the heck is FPIES? Like apple pies? Cherry pies? Nope. Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. Man is that a mouthful!
According to the International FPIES Association:
“Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) is an allergic reaction in the gastrointestinal system. The most common triggers are milk and soy, but any food (even those thought to be hypoallergenic e.g. rice, oat) can cause an FPIES reaction. FPIES typically starts within the first year of life.”
This definition, provided by the FPIES Foundation, fits our daughter to a tee. Upon receiving the diagnosis of FPIES from our pediatrician, she also referred us to a pediatric allergist for further testing. While there, they did skin testing on her which came back negative. Which was not surprising because FPIES does not show up on a typical allergy test.
One resource, also provided by the International FPIES Association, is an FPIES Fact Sheet. This has information about more specifics in regards to FPIES such as information on diet.
As stated in the above fact sheet, many times there is only one “trigger,” food. For our daughter, that trigger food is oats. Make sense right? Oatmeal made her SO sick! We are hopeful that this is something that she can outgrow however, at this time, there is no known cure for the syndrome.
We are so grateful to have an answer and to know what we need to avoid to help keep our baby girl happy, healthy, and safe. I hope this information can be helpful to others while navigating through possible food allergies with our children. Best of luck and please feel free to comment below about your experiences with FPIES.