My daughter has always been a little bit of a 'wired' child. She had eczema until she was 3 and many strange rashes after eating that came and went. However, all of this was quite manageable and she was otherwise a healthy, happy kid. Then, when she was 4 years old she overnight became utterly unmanageable. Her slight anxiety blew out of control, she was melting down 4-10 times a day over tiny things, she was disagreeable, angry and miserable (this was a child that never did the terrible twos or was a tantrum thrower). Nothing in our home life had changed, nothing seemed different except her. She was repeatedly saying terrible negative things that I never expected to hear from a small child. Worst of all, she started hurting herself during these melt downs. She would tear and her skin all up her arms until it bled, she would bite her arms until she bruised them and rip her hair out. I was completely lost.

I went to the GP who referred me to a paediatrician. He took it fairly seriously given its sudden onset and ordered a ream of tests. Waiting for the results seemed to take forever and in my desperation I was reading everything I could find. Somewhere, somehow I came across information about child behaviour and food intolerances and was directed to the FedUp website. I searched my brain. Was anything different in our diet in the 8 weeks she had been like this?  We didn't eat much packaged food anyway - but YES. Since the beginning of that year I had been buying a different 'healthy looking' gluten free commercial sliced bread for my daughters lunch (we never had much bread as I'm coeliac). She had been having this bread almost every day and her consumption of it coincided perfectly with the onset of this behaviour.  I ran to the kitchen - I just knew it must have this 282 preservative I'd been reading about. It did and I threw it in the bin. The meltdowns and self harming stopped the next day, three days before we re-visited the paediatrician to be told there was nothing wrong with her and that it was a parenting issue.

Since that time we have had only two re-emergences of this awful, awful behaviour, only ever mildly and short lived (it's coming up to two years now since this horror 8 weeks of my life). Further investigation has shown she is sensitive to some degree to natural food chemicals, particularly amines and we limit those.  I have never had the guts to retest her with anything with 282 in it and am happy to never have it in my house as long as I live.

When I saw those awful statistics about young kids and self harm I felt sick. This is on the rise just like all allergies and mental health conditions are on the rise. I had to share my story and hope it can help someone else or get action - Kylie by email.

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