Plainville boy suffering from extreme allergy


by News Channel 8's Jocelyn Maminta
Posted Jan. 22, 2008
3:30 PM

(WTNH) _ A six year old Plainville boy and his family are trying to manage a rare disease that only allows him to eat just a few kinds of food.

It's lunchtime for Timmy Armstrong and his stepfather is cutting up prepared venison for the little boy. Deer meat is the only solid protein that the six year old can stomach.

"I say I'm on a diet, I can't eat a lot of food," Timmy said.

Timmy has eosinophilic esophagitis, a disease that is relatively new to doctors. It is characterized by an intense inflammation of the esophagus associated with allergies.

"The white blood cells think food is a parasite and it attacks his body and creates all kinds of symptoms whether you see them or not," said Timmy's mother, Stacey Dionne.

Timmy lives on a very restricted diet thanks to the disease.

"He can eat deer, he can have natural oats, for condiments he can have salt...sugar," said Timmy's father, Tim Armstrong Sr.

Also on Timmy's daily menu is an amino acid-based formula fed through a tube.

"It's better than drinking it," Timmy said.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Hyams at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Timmy's disorder has become widespread in the last 10 to 15 years.

"I will tell you, we are literally seeing two new cases a week of this, 100 cases in a year," Dr. Hyams said. "The inflammation is pretty much throughout the entire esophagus, and that inflammation somehow affects motility .. the way that it pushes food down."

The cause of eosinophilic esophagitis is unknown but Dr. Hyams says many doctors suspect that the environment may be a factor. "These types of disorders are very rarely seen in underdeveloped parts of the world where hygiene is not a premium but at the end of the day .. we don't know," he said.

Treatment includes identifying the foods that cause the inflammation.

While the disease is still too new for doctors to determine how it will impact Timmy's life, it doesn't stop the first grader from dreaming big. "I will be a football player with a feeding tube," he said.

To learn more about eosinophilic esophagitis, please visit www.curedfoundation.org or www.apfed.org

If you would like to donate venison to Timmy, please e-mail his mom at [email protected] or call 860-356-4354.