The Truth About Corn Allergy
Nicole Jurain, a new mom, experienced all the typical joys the first few months of parenting brings. However, her joy turned into concern as she noticed something terribly wrong with her little son. He experienced a seemly endless stream of vomiting fits, skin breakouts and meltdowns. As the months passed he progressed normally, and mentally, even at an accelerated rate. But his behavior became erratic and inconsistent. He couldn’t sit still for even a minute. Doctors began to diagnose him with Autism, and then Aspersers, but none of them fit.
In a desperate state to find answers, Nicole turned to the medical community. She suspected allergies, but it wasn’t easy to get the correct diagnosis. It became a fierce battle. Her doctor wouldn’t give the needed referral to an allergist, wasting three months sending her to dermatologists for the rashes. Nicole’s maternal instincts knew better. Her son’s behavior would change right in front of her eyes. Finally she got the referral and the diagnosis she had suspected all along. Food Allergies. Corn was the biggest culprit.
Diagnosis was critical in Nicole’s journey to healing and understanding her son but it was the first step. Living with a corn allergy is a life changing and devastating process- one of caution and often seclusion. Corn allergy is a particularly difficult allergy to manage. Everything her son ingests, touches and breathes needs to be monitored. Diagnosed at age 2 ½, he’s now 11 years old and is currently home schooled due to the severity of his allergies. Corn and its derivatives are in virtually everything.
Corn and corn syrup have replaced sugar as the primary sweetener in an overwhelming number of food products. Hidden from view and disguised in many forms, it’s the ingredient named Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherols, “Natural Flavors,” carmel color, dextrose and a host of others.
Not only food sources contribute to allergic reactions. Corn, its various forms and derivatives are in raw materials, beverages, vaccines, medicines and household items such as shampoo and body powder. Even infant formulas are often made with high-fructose corn syrup. Corn is a building block for literally thousands of consumer and industrial products.
One reason why corn allergy is so hard for these families to manage is a lack of recognition of the severity of the problem. The FDA only requires the top 8 allergens to be labeled on food products. As number 9 on the list, there are no labeling requirements. The FDA does not require corn derivatives to be listed along with other ingredients. In other words, a can of tomato sauce could contain citric acid, commonly derived from corn. A mom reading the ingredients may think it was safe for her child.
Symptoms are so individualized that each person suffers differently. Which makes this extremely difficult for parents to manage. No doctor hears the same story. A child with corn allergies can have a range of symptoms – from appearing Autistic to suffering a condition called EoE (an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus) and need feeding tubes. Some kids have learning disabilities while others suffer from anaphylaxis. With corn is in so many items most moms feel overwhelmed in figuring out how to remove their child from exposure. It is extremely important for these moms to have early intervention guidance because there is a high rate of children outgrowing their sensitivity if properly diagnosed and cared for.
Corn is the most commonly misdiagnosed allergy among kids. Now considered a ‘new’ food allergy, it is often underreported and misdiagnosed. Doctors need to recognize the critical importance of first response, early diagnosis and intervention. Complete elimination is critical, particularly if your child is under the age of three and has an autistic diagnosis.
We need better, more inclusive labeling laws from the FDA specifically as it relates to corn or ingredients derived from corn, contained in food, products, and medicine. Corn needs to be included in the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. Consumers deserve to know what is in the food they’re buying.
Being frustrated with doctors, pharmacists and the medical community that often have no idea how to deal with this situation, these women have formed their own online communities to support and help one another. Nicole has collected hundreds of letters from moms and women concerned about corn allergies. Her Facebook group – CornFreedom is devoted entirely to this topic. Nicole and community are aligned with one mission: To have more inclusive labeling from the FDA.
If you or a loved one has a personal experience dealing with an allergy, please share your story on Facebook/MomLifeTV. For more information and support on corn allergy please contact Nicole Jurain on Facebook/CornFreedom
Letters to CornFreedom.com To Change Labeling Laws
Begining with Nicole Jurain’s own story, here are over fifty letters shared in an effort to get media attention to this critical issue. Due to the length, the letters and heartfelt stories continue in Part 2 Corn Allergy: The Real Story.
Hind sight is 20/20. If I knew then what I know now… If only someone had told me about that! We use these sayings all the time in reference to just about everything we do. If I knew then what I know now I would have changed a ton of things and at the same time not changed anything at all.
Our son was born, full term, healthy weight, great APGAR scores. He was a “lazy feeder” I had to work very hard to make that boy nurse. He was sleepy. When I finally got him on a good feeding schedule he was very gassy, always wiggling around, crying and spit up constantly. He had these wonderful moments of relaxation and he was giggling and fun to be around. Then I would nurse him. It would start all over again.
At some point early on in our sons’ life I chose to give him an anti-gas supplement during his feeding time. This didn’t help him at all, I thought it would. I kept track of it, the dosage was only allowed 12 times during the day. I would hit max every day. He would spit up, but didn’t really spit up, more like cover us completely in his meal. Instead of a diaper bag to go out we had something similar to a overnight bag for traveling. My husband and I had to pack socks, shirts, shorts/pants, I had another bra for the great soakings that would happen. Down to our toes!!!
If this was happening now in 2012 my son would have been diagnosed with reflux disease or some other horribly wrong conclusion. I had him to the doctors, they checked his height, weight, size of his head, milestones all normal or above average. This made the doctors tell me that I was over reacting! I was thinking too hard, he had no “failure to thrive” so he was fine.
When he was 4 months old I put him in a walker to stroll around in. I thought he would just aimlessly walk or push or slide or sit. Nope not him, he saw something he wanted he propelled that little walker on the lowest setting to go and get it. I couldn’t keep his mind occupied because he would see something once and not need to see it again. A new toy, if he could figure out the puzzle he was done with it. BORING. I couldn’t keep up with my 4 month old. I was floored.
I babysat since I was 11 years old I thought I knew kids. I figured I was such a good babysitter that I would be a great mom. How much easier it then to have your own child? I would work sometimes overnight as a nanny as I got older. These kids were fine, they weren’t mine and they were doing ok. I couldn’t keep up with my own kid.
As he got older he remained mentally busy, even busier. I couldn’t get him to sit with me for a minute. The doctors are now starting to diagnose him with Autism, but it didn’t seem to quite fit. They were confused by how his behavior wasn’t consistent. They couldn’t diagnose him twice, each time it was different. They thought Aspergers, but again he didn’t FIT into that category. By this point I was noticing digestive issues with him. He would vomit from cheese, he would have diarrhea from bananas. His cheeks were red, bumpy and inflamed, his anus had a perfect red ring around it and he was still very gassy. Strawberries, this was the strangest for me; he would shake. He wouldn’t be able to control himself at all after a strawberry. We’d say “Don’t touch that it’s hot” and he would literally battle his body to listen to what we said but he couldn’t. He would touch it! He would cry and he would feel bad. It’s called no impulse control. He had it all day, but not after strawberries.
A doctor again told me nothing was wrong with him, he’s fine, he has no failure to thrive, he’s very smart and he’s going through terrible 2’s!!! I’m over reacting!!!
One day a friend of mine mentioned that she thought he had food allergies. She’s grown up with them herself and her daughter had skin issues and behavioral inconsistencies too. She felt with the way his skin looked, how he was advanced but yet delayed, it was an outside force, an allergy.
So back to the doctors’…NOPE no such thing! NOPE not why skin would look like that, he has eczema. Go to a dermatologist, get some cream. I didn’t want the cream, the dermatologist or the fix for the symptom. I wanted to know what the bigger picture was. I heard allergies could cause skin problems, behavioral problems and I wanted a test and now! The referral had to come from my doctor who blatantly disagreed with me. He even got my mother in law involved. She was a nurse (not at his office) but attended one of my appointments with me. He told her that there was nothing wrong. She agreed with him. Now I had to battle them both. I had to convince my doctor again.
Instead of fighting I took his cream, steroids no less. I took it home to fix my son’s cheeks. I sat it on the changing table and never used it. I couldn’t put that on his face it wasn’t going to help the real issue. So I lied. I don’t recommend this, but I did it. I told the doctor the cream didn’t work and I needed to see an allergist. He finally rolled his eyes and gave in. FINE. HERE! Take the referral!!!
This only wasted 6 months of my child’s correct care. I got an appointment, had skin prick testing done and low and behold he had several allergies. CORN was the least reactive but as we learned later in life, the biggest culprit.
While we left the doctor’s office we were told to avoid corn starch, corn syrup, corn meal, corn. THANKS DOC. As we removed those items we saw an immediate increase in attention span, ability to take directions and many less melt downs.
My friend, the same one who told me about getting him to an allergist, knew about corn! Her daughter was allergic to corn too. She gave me information about what names corn actually goes by. Her nutritionist gave it to her. She gave me her list of products to avoid and a dictionary of derivatives to avoid too.
I couldn’t imagine this really being an issue, it was so much stuff. We already made most everything from scratch and everything else I bought healthy versions, Pirate Booty (puffed corn, but healthier then Cheetos) Gerber Fruit Chews… Citric acid; corn syrup, IODIZED SALT!!! Our table salt had DEXTROSE! I gave him egg salad on one particularly wonderful day. We were sitting and coloring and talking about the information in the book. He was about two and a half. I made lunch then we went to the store to go food shopping.
As we were at the store he decided it would be funny to take an apple from the display. Of course being 2 and a half it was the bottom apple. ALL OVER THE PLACE, I was mortified. I started picking up the apples and asked him to help and told him he shouldn’t touch. He slapped me in the face and started laughing. I wanted to die. Right there, crawl up and die.
We got home and I re-read my list of things NOT to eat. Mayonaisse! It has natural flavors, citric acid and several other hidden corn ingredients. My child took about 30 minutes to hit bottom and remained there for 2 days. I had a monster to deal with. We were just coloring thirty minutes before lunch! We were doing great!
We go back to our doctor and this time during our conversation my son sat on the exam table instead of tearing the office to pieces. I pointed this out. I said “look see how he’s sitting! HE COULDN’T DO THAT BEFORE HIS ALLERGY TESTING!!!” The blank response…”He’s outgrown the terrible twos.” My response back “NO I can make him crazed by giving him something with corn in it. I can make it happen right in front of you!” Doctor “IF what you are saying is true then that means I have to tell all the other moms with rambunctious 2 year old boys that they may have food allergies” OMG!!! YES YES TELL THEM ALL!!! I wish you told me! Why can’t he see the direct relationship.
This opened my eyes very wide to doctors. They see our children for about 15 minutes, of which time they are taking notes and doing standard testing. They do not listen to the people who live 24/7 with the children, they listen to their books and their training. They don’t all know everything, they are not all following their Hippocratic Oath, they are just “doing their job” get you in, get you out, give you an answer that may be something you accept and move onto the next patient.
Fast forward, my second child, born with exactly the same symptoms bloating, vomiting, gassy BUT… I KNEW NOW! I KNEW!! He had allergies. I was nursing, I changed my diet removed everything that I had to remove from my other sons diet. The vomiting ceased the bloating, gassy, irritability? GONE!
After almost three years of nursing him and watching his diet he had outgrown all of his allergens. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for my older son. We just didn’t catch it in time. He still suffers to this day.
I still have to cook everything from scratch, have to make sure environments we go into are not perfumed, full of corn products, detergents, soaps, HAND SANITIZER, Vaccinations (yup made with corn preservatives) Medicine; any and all over the counter or prescribed have corn in them. Emergency room doctors have no clue at all, do not understand if they don’t see the word corn then it still may be corn. DEXTROSE IV’s…corn. I know more than one corn allergy sufferer who has gone to the hospital and come out worse than when they entered.
All processed foods, fabric softener, Fabreeze! Air fresheners and WAX on fruits and vegetables! So no fresh produce is safe either! We have to watch everything that he eats, breathes, or touches. All our medications are compounded at a specialty pharmacy. We had to change doctors a few times too. I haven’t found one locally that really understands the issue, just he doesn’t contest everything I say. He will look into it. He does respect my opinion and understands my decisions are in our child’s best interest as opposed to doing what’s best or easiest for me. This road is not easy by any means, completely worth it, but not easy.
During our journey I have found an Environmental Allergist when our son was almost 3, he is amazing and we still see him. Environmental Allergists understand way more about the human body then most conventional allergists. We found out that not only did our son have an allergy to corn but we also found out he had a condition called LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. He had NO bacteria in his intestines and his stomach was inflamed; levels should be 0-600 and his inflammation results were 2500!!!
We also home-school because there is way too many environmental CORN inhalants, products to touch, cleaning products and school cafeteria stink (I mean odor) that would make our highly intelligent, super sweet, wonderful child, SICK!!!
In 2009-10 I started a Facebook page called Corn Freedom. I was at the same time writing a web page for information, EVERYTHING I learned. I wanted no other parents to struggle and miss the vital symptoms and the easy fixes. It had taken me years of trial and error to be where I am now and I didn’t want other parents to shed as many tears as I did.
I find it imperative that we question our doctors, give suggestions and hope to find out what the real cause of the symptoms are. Developmental Delay Allergens are CORN, WHEAT, DAIRY, SOY, and Artificial Flavors/Colors. These cause neurological symptoms, ADD, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, anaphylaxis, eczema, brain fog, memory loss, inability to follow simple directions, no eye contact. The list is expansive of reactions.
We have become chemists, advocates and chefs too. There is no more convenience type foods, everything is from scratch. TIRED? Want to order in some food, well you can’t. Pizza starts from yeast, sugar, flour, imported cheese (not from the US.) and homemade sauce. Takes hours instead of 10 minute pick ups. Chinese food? FORGET IT! So to have to read all ingredients, learn how to create food that someone will eat, find the time, money (it’s more expensive, coupons on safe products don’t exist) and so you are stuck in an expensive draining hole. Every once and a while this breaks me, I cry in frustration, anger, being poor and having to choose meals that will sustain my growing boys, feed my husband and myself. It definitely is not an easy road. I had to stay home with my boys, school them, socialize them to the best of my ability with a child who’s allergic to corn. No movies, no sleep overs, no parties, no play dates because all of those fun kid things contain corn. Can’t go to the local pool because of the amount of sun screen, ice cream, soda, punch drinks, flavored ice pops, lollipops etc etc.
So would life be simpler if corn was labeled. HECK YEAH. If people understood what you meant when you said CORN ALLERGY, absolutely.
There is tons of information available now; I don’t quite understand why the medical community has not woken up yet. I have read many books; Dr. Doris Rapp M.D. “Is This Your Child” and many other books written by here describe how allergies affect the brain. She’s done many trials with many different children and has been able to reproduce the behavior time and time again. We too have been able to safely reproduce our son’s reactions under the care of our Environmental Allergist, Dr. Richard E. Layton in Towson Maryland.
There are tons of web sites, other moms, other allergy sufferers out there now networking and spreading the word on how allergies can affect our bodies. We need the medical community, the insurance companies and our FDA to get on board and label corn properly and make sure that our doctors are educated properly on how to care for a patient with a corn allergy.
Corn ingredients need to be clearly labeled on our food, medicines, and packaging. There are so many hundreds of ingredients that contain corn, and so many ways that food companies “hide” ingredients. As consumers, we have the right to know what is in our food, especially if it is an ingredient that could kill us or our children. When medical doctors and professionals can’t even figure out which medicines do and don’t contain corn, there is a serious problem.Around three weeks of age, my exclusively breastfed daughter began having frequent, mucousy green bowel movements. I did my research and suspected a food sensitivity. I asked her pediatrician, but he wasn’t worried because she was thriving. I sought the help of a lactation consultant, and she suggested eliminating dairy from my diet, which I did, but to no avail. After enough research and frustration, I felt I could discover the sensitivity myself with a total elimination diet. I was unsuccessful, mostly because of hunger but also because I had two medical professionals telling me my daughter was fine. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t fine, especially since she was a fussy baby, so I kept eliminating foods from my diet, one at a time until finally I got to corn. My daughter began having normal breastfed-baby poop. But then I inadvertently ate corn, because corn is in almost everything, and her poop became mucousy again. At this point, I was beginning to see a bit of blood in her diaper occasionally. I tried another elimination diet, used cornallergens.com to really learn about corn and its derivatives in our food, and was successful after three weeks on the diet, at which point I knew corn was the culprit. When I told my baby’s doctor about this (new doctor because we had moved), he told me that the blood in her diaper was not a sign of a food allergy or sensitivity, that she was not fussy because of a stomach issue, and that corn is not a common allergen. My extreme focus on my diet negated what he said because if there was ever blood or mucous in her diaper, I would always discover that I had accidentally eaten corn. (Often I would discover this only by calling a company to discover that, yes, that vitamin or other ingredient was derived from corn.) Thankfully, like most babies with this type of dietary sensitivity, she has outgrown the issue. However, I’m left with a frustration about the amount of corn that is in the American diet, doctors’ complacency about our issues, and the general lack of public knowledge about what we are all actually consuming.
Rebecca Faith Hughes, TX
My 3 year old has been havng hives, skin rash and a constant congested and runny nose for 2 years. He had his tonsils, adenoids (grew back 2 months later) and ear tubes put in. He has been blood tested and skin tested. Blood tested negative and the skin test gave him a delyaed reaction the next day that they consider negative. Childrens Memorial upped his Zyrtec to a double dose and he was then getting prickley heat that lasted weeks. Finally after more researching a common side effect of zyrtec is photosensitivity!! Heat rash is gone. Then we took him to a holisitic doctor and they did a Computerized assessment based on the acupuncture system, and measures electric response at acupuncture points. It showed his levels being high of oats, corn, food dyes and everything outside which made sense since corn is in everything and he ate a lot of oat bars. His reactions got worse outside. We took him off of most corn. There might be xanthan gum or an ingredient at the bottom of the list and shop only at organic stores. His medicines that were loaded with corn are now compounded. He hadjust had his adenoids done again since they were blocking the whole passage. We are looking into sunscreen as he had a massive reaction this past weekend outside. Hopefully the Claritan and benedryl is working and it was the wet ones my dad wiped across his face in the sun. They said the alochol could be from corn. The only sunscreen I found is badger sport +35 and they are putting vitamin E in the other ones now. I am trying to find a much more affordable one so I can leave one at daycare, the sitter and so on. I have seen a difference in the skin and the way he acts. Many people have suggested chiropractic care for allergies which we will try next week. If you know of any sunscreen products like Neutrgena sensitive or anything safe please let me know. I am going crazy!
Joy Indovina Bonifazi, IL
Figuring out that I have a corn intolerance has changed my life. For years I suffered from a long list of physical symptoms from migraines, hives, headaches, swollen eyes, joint stiffness and soreness, tight chest, “racing heart” , lethargy, fatigue, and the list goes on. I usually had one to three symptoms at a time. When I got hives or migraines my doctor suggested it could be food allergies. Finally I heard about an “alternative” doctor who practiced kinesiology. He did “muscle testing” me and told me I had an intolerance to corn. At first, I just stopped eating obvious corn products (corn, corn chips, corn bread) etc. I can’t really remember if I felt that much better. I do know that a year later when I was suffering from multitudes of symptoms I remembered about my corn intolerance and decided to get serious about omitting it from my diet. I started reading about all the ways corn was used as additives. I took it out of my diet as completely as possible (it’s a lot of work since corn is in just about all packaged food) and immediately felt almost completely better. Now I eat mostly whole foods and prepare most everything I eat. I scour the markets looking for foods I can eat. Unbelievably in my local chain market I can’t find a single loaf of bread without either corn or some other terrible sounding additive. I support demanding the government to label products in a manner in which products are not hidden under other names. Anyone with a chronic illness should try eliminating all the processed food from their diets. Doctors and the pharmaceutical companies are trying to keep us sick!
Josie Lars, MI
I self diagnosed the adult onset allergy after noticing severe symptoms over time of eating corn laden snacks. I am one of the working poor and cannot currently afford health insurance, and don’t qualify for state aid. But even my autoimmune problems (hyperthyroidism and endometriosis) have eased considerably with the elimination of corn. This allergy impacts every aspect of my life, from the limitations on my food choices, and worrying about malnutrition, to having to spend days online reading ingredients to find safe hair and skin care products. It limits the jobs i can get, as i can’t go into a place that pops popcorn, or uses too many corny cleaning chemicals in the environment. I have to make my own allowances at work, even taking in my own safe soaps and toilet paper. It creates a constant financial bind, as many of the foods i can eat cost much more than the average processed items found in all departments of the grocery. I am terrified of the possibility of having to go to the hospital for an emergency. i have the info that i know to give them saved in my android, as does my bf, but i’m quite sure i have not covered all the bases, as I am not a medical professional. Thanks for collecting these to help our cause.
Dana Bahor, IL
My corn problem began just under two years ago, in my early thirties. I’ve always been a healthy, hassle-free person. All of a sudden I started waking up with hives around my midsection and thighs. It kept happening, day after day. They got bigger, and started covering more of my body. Then one dinner, my lip puffed up. I deduced from the ingredients I’d been eating recently that corn was the suspect. I’d never heard of anyone having a corn allergy before. The next day I ate a lovely dinner my husband cooked that we thought would be safe. I ended up having to go to the ER for a steroid shot.
I saw an allergist. He tried treating me for a sinus infection. He suggested I take an OTC antihistamine. I told him it had corn in it. He’d apparently never thought of that before. I went to more doctors due to the autoimmune disease markers that showed up on my test results. I was given thyroid replacement, immune suppressants. The only thing that actually helps me is to not consume corn.
We started rethinking everything. We’d always ate healthy, or so we thought. But now we’ve realized that nearly every packaged food has some form of corn in it. The problem is, it is not clearly marked. And sometimes corn can be in food without it ever being disclosed at all because it is used in packaging or in a non-nutritive way. I reacted to some chocolate once that did not have any corn listed. Where was it? The “vanilla beans” listed in the ingredients was actually flavor from vanilla beans extracted by a corn derived alcohol. Most people are more likely to buy a product with natural flavors, right? Not me. There’s a possibility it’s made with corn, and that’s a risk I don’t want to take.
I need corn to be listed as an allergen on food. We need corn to be listed as an allergen on food. So many things get made from corn that are never disclosed to the consumer. For my health, I need to be aware what is in my food so I can make safe choices. Please support corn being added to the FDA’s list of ingredients required to be labeled as an allergen.
Darcie Griffin, Davis, CA
I definitely think this needs attention. My toddler daughter has multiple allergies, and I can easily manage all of them except for corn. There are so many hidden corn products or things you never would think would have corn, but they do! I am having a lot of trouble right now with products that have the dreaded ingredient “natural flavors.” When I call to find out if the product contains corn, the companies tell me that they cannot tell me what is or is not in the natural flavors because that is part of their “secret ingredients” that they don’t want anyone to know so the recipe cannot be replicated. It is very frustrating because there is so little my daughter can eat because of her allergies, and without knowing for sure if corn is in a product, I can’t give it to her. There may be several products I could add to her food list if only I knew. In the meantime, she cannot have anything that includes the ingredient “natural flavors,” and she has actually lost weight since turning a year old (now 20 months). I feel the FDA should do something about this. I think it would be great to have a corn-free label on all products that do not contain corn. Please feel free to use my comments to help those suffering with corn allergies. I hope we can get the FDA to help!
Shannon Jones TN
Nicole, Your efforts are to be commended. Keep up the good work.
My family has been suffering from an unknown allergy for years until my youngest son broke out in hives on his face. A quick allergy test revealed corn as the culprit. Corn allergens. No one really understands or truly recognises them as a problem. My allergist simply announced it’s a corn allergy. no information. no pamphlets. no resources.
From my experience It is my opinion that from birth the exposure can harm those who are allergic. From the corn in the Vaccines to the corn in the IV baby and mom are overloaded with corn products that set our immunity sensors on overload. It is important that we label everything and educate ourselves but it is more important that we get our local politicians on board.
We can get them on board by taking the time to meet them and share our stories. email works fine but a visit is better. This needs to be personal and in their district.
And sorry I’m not signing my name yet, though I will share Keine Mais.
My handle means NO CORN in German. Peace
My son ended up at an allergist because he broke his nose and needed surgery, during which they found he had a nasal polyp. Since this is very rare for kids, the ENT/allergist suggested skin testing. He was allergic to a ton of stuff, mostly environmental (pollens, etc) and is now on shots. But during that skin testing they also tested for some foods and he was allergic to a few that we had no idea about, corn being the worst! The ENT/allergist was very adamant saying no corn but, as that was very drastic for us never having experienced any of this before; he did not provide much else in the way of direction. My husband and I were horrified when we went to the store and really say just how many things had corn in it. It was never something we had to pay attention to before and it was extremely overwhelming. Not knowing where to even begin, we scheduled a consult with my sons’ pediatrician. He informed us that there is no such thing as a corn allergy and to ignore it. He said that anyone would have issues if they ate too much corn. And he told us that even if my son was allergic to corn, high fructose corn syrup would not need to be avoided since the corn protein has been broken down so much that it would not cause a reaction. After doing some research on it, I think he is obviously wrong! So we really have not had a lot of guidance on how to approach this. We are struggling with whether to just eliminate obvious corn sources, or all derivatives. What if corn is listed as the 15th ingredient in something? Is this something we avoid? Will this allergy get worse over time if we don’t eliminate enough corn from his diet? These are all issues that the doctors have not provided sufficient information on. And since corn is not part of the standard allergens listed on food when eating out, it is very hard to avoid. And it does make it difficult because we don’t know what his reaction is. We would have had no idea if not for the broken nose! And he has always loved corn! So we have been starting slow and removing obvious sources. It is great having resources such as your page for guidance.
Kristy Goddard, Pennsylvannia
I would like to take a few minutes to tell you about my fourteen month old son, Raiden. He was born at 39 weeks, after a normal pregnancy weighing eight pounds, seven ounces. He was discharged with a clean bill of health after twenty-four hours, even though he was already refluxing. We obtained a reflux prescription (the first of three) a few days later. Raiden continued refluxing and at three weeks of age was diagnosed as a “lazy nurser.” A week or so later we conceded defeat, and put him on Gerber’s Good Start formula. However, he had problems choking, so we thickened his formula (as we had done with his two older brothers). Almost immediately his diapers became very foul smelling and were extremely loose. Raiden did not lose any weight, but was very slow in putting any on. He was almost one month old before he was back to his birth weight (a feat accomplished by the end of week one for my other three children). Raiden became super skinny and drank twenty-four ounces of formula per day, the minimum recommended amount.
Shortly before he turned four months, he had made enough improvement with his swallowing that we were able to stop thickening his formula. I noticed a difference in his diapers – not quite a stinky and not quite as runny. When I looked at the ingredients on the thickener I discovered it was corn starch. This led me on a quest for a corn-free formula. I made several phone calls to the various manufacturers and found ONE that is corn free. Similac Alimentum Ready to Use- $10 for 32 ounces, which lasted about one day. Yes, over $300 for formula per month!
The turnaround was almost instantaneous! Raiden started gaining weight (he went from the 5th percentile to 50th in two months) and his reflux was GONE! He also had normal stools, even to the point that I would be surprised that some were dirty in addition to being wet.
He is now fourteen months and hovers around the 50th percentile in weight, and 75th in height. He is a happy boy who loves his older sister and brothers. However, any time he eats anything with corn or a corn derivative, he refluxes and his stools are stinky. It has been very rough avoiding corn. It is in EVERYTHING, even where it has no business. Cereals are almost non-existent, even rice chex contains corn. I go grocery shopping with a two page, two column list of the KNOWN names for corn. It would be so much easier if corn was listed in the ingredients. We have other food allergies in our family (wheat, egg whites, pears, pineapple, milk, and peanuts) and the corn is BY FAR the most difficult to avoid! I have contacted numerous companies trying to find out if their product is safe for my child. I had one person from Kraft tell me they could not tell me whether the starch used in their barbeque sauce was corn – they said it was “proprietary information.”
Corn needs to be listed in the ingredients as other top allergens are listed. Food allergies are on the rise, and no one needs to suffer needlessly. I had a corn allergy as a child and had to “tough it out.” I am very thankful that we discovered what was making Raiden sick, now I pray that it becomes easier to go shopping. Corn needs to be labeled everywhere it is included, whether it is a food item or a non-food item, such as toothpaste and sunscreen. Thankfully Raiden does not react to touching corn, but it would be nice to know exactly what he should avoid.
Thank you for your time in this important matter,
Becki Hagerman (from southwest Missouri)
Continued Part 2: Corn Allergy – The Real Story