My daughter is nearly two. Ten days ago, she woke with a rash all over her torso. By that evening it had spread all over her body, including face, hands and feet, and she had developed a fever. At the local hospital, the doctor advised us she had a virus and it was not contagious. He suggested we give her Panadol four hourly to reduce her temperature and give Claratyne for the itch. During the next five days we gave her Claratyne but it did nothing to stop the itch. Her temperature remained up and we eventually gave up on the Panadol. We noticed that the rash seemed to improve during the day but flare up again in the evenings in certain trouble spots such as her back and around her nappy.

On day 5, after her evening bath, she went berserk when we tried to dress her. She was scratching madly and screaming non-stop – it took two of us to hold her down and get a nappy on her. After an hour of distress, she fell asleep but had a terrible night. She moaned in her sleep, and woke at 2.30am and screamed for half an hour, trying to pull her clothes and nappy off.

The next morning I took her to our GP. He was perplexed. He was trying to find some sign of infection to explain why her temperature was still up. He advised we switch to using Phenergan to try to control the itch. I gave her three doses of Phenergan that day, and yet the itching continued. That evening we had a repeat of the screaming and scratching frenzy. We ended up calling an ambulance. By the time the paramedics arrived, Freya had stopped screaming and was quiet.
One paramedic raised the issue of this possibly being an allergic reaction but was wondering if it was something to do with clothes detergent. The hospital staff had nothing more to offer.

The following morning we took Freya to see an allergy specialist. He advised us the rash was urticaria, and his belief was that she did initially have a virus and her body had an allergic reaction in response. He advised it could take up to two weeks for the rash to clear up completely. He said the only other explanation would be a food allergy, and that if there was no improvement over the weekend we should make changes to her diet.

On the weekend I saw the Herald-Sun article. When I mentioned it to the allergy specialist, but he discounted flavour enhancer 635 as a possible cause for Freya’s reaction!!! He said food additives do not produce a long lasting reaction like this … Well, I am not taking any chances. Now aware that 635 can cause the exact symptoms I have seen my daughter suffer during the past few days, I have reflected on her diet. The day before Freya’s rash first appeared, she ate something she had never eaten before: flavoured chips.- Tara, Melbourne