Friday, April 29, 2011

McDonalds to the rescue

When Suzanne Franklin fell pregnant, she was at a loss as to how she would eat for two. The 23-year-old had suffered from extreme food allergies for year from eggs to dairy and fruit and vegetables.

Doctors warned her that pregnancy would make the symptoms worse but that antihistamines could harm her baby.

But Ms Franklin knew she wasn’t allergic to McDonald’s burgers - so she ate a Big Mac burger everyday throughout her pregnancy. Any worries about her unusual diet affecting her baby’s growth were unfounded - as she has given birth to her own 10Ib 2oz whopper.

Miss Franklin said: ‘All those burgers definitely didn’t do him any harm. It was the only thing I could eat safely during my pregnancy, so I just lived on them. ‘When Harry was born and the doctors told me that he weighed over 10Ib’s I just couldn’t believe it. ‘I was worried that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients for me and the baby - but Harry definitely proved that wrong.

‘The doctor who scanned me at 20 weeks told me that I must be doing something right as he was so big and healthy - but I never expected him to be that big and neither did they. The doctors expected him to be around 8Ibs.’

Miss Franklin, who lives with partner Paul Wilson, 27, a dental technician, in Dudley, West Midlands, has suffered from extreme food allergies since she was two-years-old. She said: ‘I ate a chocolate covered peanut when I was two years old and it sent my body into anaphylactic shock and I had to be rushed straight to hospital. Doctors told my parents I was lucky to be alive.’

Miss Franklin was diagnosed with a severe nut allergy and she had to carry an adrenaline pen around with her at all times.

But it wasn’t until she was 15 that her allergies became more extreme. She ate a kiwi fruit and her throat closed up, leaving her unable to breathe. She said: ‘I couldn’t breathe, but luckily mum could see what was happening to me and she called an ambulance straight away.

‘But then a week later the same thing happened when I was eating a strawberry and tests showed that I was allergic to eggs, tea, alcohol, rice, oils, fish, and all fruit and vegetables.

‘I became absolutely terrified of eating, as I just seemed to be allergic to everything. For weeks I just lived on bread and water, and I dropped two stone in weight.’

But Miss Franklin discovered she could eat Big Mac burgers - without cheese or salad, so she began to eat them most days.

She was so allergic to other foods that she had to cook dinner separately from her partner and store all her food in airtight containers in the fridge.

She said: ‘I was just desperate to keep eating so that the baby could grow, so I just forced down burger after burger each day.

‘Paul would eat a salad, and I would just look on enviously. The lack of nutrients in my diet meant that I picked up one cold after another, but I was advised not to take any multivitamins in case they triggered an allergic reaction too.

‘I wondered if eating so many burgers would affect the baby, but luckily my 20 week scan showed that the baby was developing fine. It was such a relief.’

By the time Miss Franklin went into labour on Christmas Day, she had gained four stone. She said: ‘My bump had just kept growing and growing - Paul kept joking that it was all the Big Mac’s I was eating.’

Harry was born at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, weighing a whopping 10Ib2. Miss Franklin added: ‘I just couldn’t believe it when the doctors told me what he weighed.’

Baby Harry is now three months old - and he has shown signs of inheriting Miss Franklin’s allergies too. He is already allergic to seven different types of milk.

She said: ‘I had hoped that Harry wouldn’t be allergic to all the foods that I am, but it looks as though he may have inherited some of them. But at least he won’t be allergic to burgers.'


Five-minute test could detect autism in babies at the age of one

A five-minute screening test could help detect autism in babies when they are just 12-months-old, U.S researchers said today.

The developmental disorder begins in childhood and persist throughout adulthood, but often isn't picked up until youngsters are older. 'The benefit of this study is children get into treatment much earlier than they would otherwise,' said study author Karen Pierce of the University of California, San Diego. It is the first to show that a simple screening tool could be used to detect autism in infants.

Autism, a complex and mysterious brain disorder, strikes one in 100 children in the UK according to the NHS. It affects four times as many boys as girls. It is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication and understanding other people's emotions and behavior.

It is usually first diagnosed in early childhood, around the age of three, and recent studies have shown that the earlier that children are diagnosed and treated, the better they do. 'There is extensive evidence that early therapy can have a positive impact on the developing brain,' said Professor Pierce.

'The opportunity to diagnose and thus begin treatment for autism around a child's first birthday has enormous potential to change outcomes for children affected with the disorder.'

For the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Professor Pierce and colleagues put together a network of 137 paediatricians, who systematically started screening all babies at their one-year check up.

As part of the screening program, parents answered a survey, rating their babies on questions such as 'When your child plays with toys, does he/she look at you to see if you are watching?' or 'Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?'

Any baby who failed the screening was referred to university's autism centre for more testing. These children were re-tested every six months until age 3, when they were likely to show signs of autism.

Of the more than 10,000 infants, 184 failed the initial screening, and 75 per cent of these children ended up with some problem.

Of the total, 32 of the children have received an autism diagnosis, 56 had a language delay, nine were developmentally delayed and 36 were categorized as having some other issue.

After the screening program, all toddlers diagnosed with autism or developmental delay, and 89 per cent of those with language delay were referred for behavioral therapy around the age 17 months. On average, these children began receiving treatment at 19 months.

Dr Lisa Gilotty from the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study, said: 'Those kids were getting treatment who otherwise may not have been seen for treatment until age 3 or later.'

Dr Chrystal de Freitas, a paediatrician who participated in the study, said parents who got the screening paid more attention to their child's development, and it helped prepare some for potentially bad news.

'In addition to giving me the opportunity to do a more thorough evaluation, it allowed parents time to process the information that their child might have a development delay or autism - a message no parent wants to hear,' she said.

Professor Pierce said surveys of the doctors before the program showed that most had not been screening infants in any systematic way for autism. But after the study, 96 per cent said they have continued using the screening tool.

Dr Gilotty said the screening test still needs to be confirmed through other studies, but it proves that it is possible to systematically screen babies for autism in a way that does not put too much of a burden on paediatricians.


No comments: