The only protein 6-year-old Timmy Armstrong can eat is venison, Fox News reported this week. Young Timmy can also stomach small amounts of natural oats, salt, and sugar. He also receives an amino acid-based formula through a feeding tube.
Timmy has eosinophilic esophagitis, a relatively new disease characterized by intense inflammation of the esophagus that's linked to allergies.
Dr. Jeffrey Hyams at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center says that the disorder has become widespread in the last 10 to 15 years. He states, ‘I will tell you, we are literally seeing two new cases a week of this, 100 cases in a year. The inflammation is pretty much throughout the entire esophagus, and that inflammation somehow affects motility … the way that it pushes food down.’
Although the cause of eosinophilic esophagitis is as yet unknown, many doctors believe that the environment may be a factor since the disorder and others like it are hardly seen in underdeveloped parts of the world.
For more information on food allergies, see the Food Allergy FAQ.