Friday, October 21, 2011

Early signs of milk intolerance

Our ten-year-old came home from school this week with his first pimple. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and yet, everything about him these days is telling me that he those hormones are changing.

His interest in grabbing random breasts. (To anyone in his path, I'm really sorry about that). His lack of interest in his baby toys at home. Not wanting to hold our hands or touch us at all when we are in public (which is rough for the parent of a bolting child). His latest seizure...

I'm a mom to a low-verbal child, watching for the signs of growth and development in a way that is different from traditional parents. And yet, once those signs are found, I think think the realization catches us all off guard at first--at least a little.

That pimple sure took me back.

When he was a baby, our older son had large, puss-filled pimples on his face. He was under two years old, and my husband and I didn't know if he was still the age to get baby acne. Stupid us. However, we were smart enough to ask our pediatrician.

"Let's wait and see," he said. "Perhaps it will clear on its own."

With so much that was happening to this child at that time developmentally, I was content to wait a while. But, the pimples only grew larger. And, they multiplied. So, the pediatrician sent us to a pediatric dermatologist.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. This was the theory that doctor had for why our son had a face full of acne. I had never heard of it but was getting used to strange diagnoses being thrown at me regarding this child. My days seemed to be spent going from one test to another, and the worry never ended.

This latest theory was an abnormality of the adrenal gland that affects its ability to make cortisol and aldosterone. In short, the end result is that a person with this disorder will experience male sex hormones early--a deep voice, pubic hair, etc. Acne was never specifically mentioned to me, and yet I followed along with the testing.

Thankfully, after being dragged through the ordeal, the test results proved to be negative, and we were left again with a child still suffering from severe acne. So, the dermatologist loaded us up with a few different steroid creams and sent us on our way.

A number of months later, Our son was diagnosed with autism. And, not long after that, at the urging of my mother, I removed gluten, dairy, corn and soy from his diet in an effort to alleviate his autistic behaviors. Over time, those pimples, once firey red, quietly faded. We didn't even need the steroid creams.

When it came time to challenge the diet, I added dairy back in to discover that his face broke out again very quickly. It didn't take me long to realize the connection.

Tell me, why didn't the dermatologist suggest this? Why make the grand leap to congenital adrenal hyperplasia instead of theorizing, you know, maybe he's having trouble digesting milk? Dairy intolerances are not so abnormal, after all, particularly in young children.

He is on medication today to calm that inflammation in his intestines which causes most of his food intolerances. Yet he still remains on a restricted diet. His face shows scars from those early days, but only his dad and I would know what caused them.

When he emerged from his school bus this week with that gigantic pimple on his face, I immediately saw my baby with a face filled with acne. But, I know that we've moved on from that.

That pimple, instead of being an outward sign of a body in distress, is a sign that everything is working as it should. Our son is growing up, and now it is mom who can suffer a bit of distress as I consider how I'm going to shepherd this child through grooming and puberty. Oh my....


  1. Scary what rockets down the pipe at us as parents. I'm glad you were able to figure out his issues as a baby - surely that will happen, too, as he continues to grow and change.

  2. You have certainly had more than your share of things to worry about. I still think life would have been so much easier if every baby included a specific instruction manual for the parents to follow in case of all things that could and likely will happen.


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