Allergic to my unborn son: Mother scarred for life after reacting to her baby's hormones while he was in the wombPainful and itchy rash began covering Dayle Byrom's body at 20 weeksDoctors believe she is intolerant to testosterone produced by the foetus
12:40 GMT, 25 September 2012
12:40 GMT, 25 September 2012
A new mother was scarred for life after an allergic reaction to her son while he was still in the womb.
Dayle Byrom, 20, from Wakefield, developed a burning rash all over her body while pregnant with Jacob.
Doctors believe she has a rare intolerance to testosterone, which was produced by her baby as the foetus grew.
Greatest reward: Dayle Byrom at home with baby Jacob, now one, whose hormones caused her an unbearably painful allergic reaction when he was in the womb
The first-time mother noticed the rash when she was 20 weeks' pregnant and was soon crippled by searing pain and unbearable itching.
She was in so much discomfort she even told boyfriend Tom Hayward, 21, that she thought having a termination might be the only solution.
'The pain got worse day by day,' she said. 'It started when I was 20 weeks’ pregnant and was at its worst at 30 weeks.
'My skin was on fire. If I touched
anything it was agony. I couldn’t sit down or keep still. All I could do
was itch and cry – it felt like someone was ripping my skin off.
'I tried wearing gloves, but nothing
stopped me digging at my skin. All I cared about was scratching, and
everyday tasks became impossible.
'I felt like my body was telling me I shouldn’t be a mother.
Sheer agony: The 20-year-old said the severe rash made her feel as though someone was ripping her skin off
'Even though I was too far
into my pregnancy, I still begged Tom for an abortion. I wasn’t thinking
straight. I regretted ever getting pregnant in the first place.'
She pleaded with doctors to help but no-one could tell her the cause or suggest treatment.
'My GP told me it was the worst case
she’d ever come across. I saw ten different doctors, and no-one could
tell me what caused the rash.
'I was prescribed all sorts of
antihistamine creams but nothing made the slightest bit of difference.'
Jacob was born on May 6 – and only then
was Ms Byrom referred to a dermatologist at Pontefract Hospital, who
suggested a rare allergy was to blame.
She was diagnosed with Polymorphic
Eruption of Pregnancy (PEP), which usually affects only first-time
mothers and flares up in the later stages of pregnancy.
Her legs are now pockmarked with sores caused by constant scratching.
Stark reminder: Ms Byrom has been left with permanent scars on her legs after the 'nightmare' pregnancy
Ms Byrom, who works as a dog groomer and has no history of allergies, said: 'The dermatologist examined me for allergies and discounted the most common ones.
'He said he was certain the rash was caused by an allergic reaction to testosterone which was produced while Jacob was growing inside of me.
'He said it was very rare to have an outbreak as bad as mine, but in the handful of similar cases, the women have gone on to have boys.
'I was told if I didn’t stop scratching immediately, I would have to be bandaged up.
'I’ve ruined my skin. The scars are very deep and, unfortunately, they’re never going to heal properly.
'I’m absolutely gutted. I can’t wear dresses or skirts any more. When I wore shorts in summer, people stopped me in the street and asked me questions about the marks.
'Most women lose their confidence because of stretch marks, but mine’s been ruined by the damage to my legs. When on the rare occasion I go out, I have to cover up.'
PEP, which affects around one in 300 pregnancies, is still not fully understood by medical experts and there is currently debate over whether the sex of the baby is a cause.
Huge relief: Ms Byrom with her son Jacob and partner Tom Hayward after the birth
Dr Samantha Vaughan-Jones, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists, said: 'PEP is more common in the first pregnancy, and occurs more commonly with multiple pregnancy – twins or triplets.
'There is some debate over the role of foetal sex, and I did some research and wrote a paper where I showed that PEP was more prevalent in women carrying male foetuses than females.
'This was supported by another study but has not been confirmed in any subsequent studies, so the conclusions are not clear. However, no studies have looked at the role of testosterone.'
Despite everything, I’m so glad I’ve had Jacob. It’s been a nightmare, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
– DAYLE BYROM
Director of Clinical Services at charity Allergy UK Maureen Jenkins said: 'If there is an existing chronic condition, such as an allergy, pregnancy can have an effect. Some people experience really bad reactions, but sometimes the opposite is true and their symptoms improve.
'However, there are no studies or figure relating to allergies to testosterone.'
Her symptoms are gradually easing but Ms Byrom still compulsively scratches and fears she will never be able to return to pet grooming, as shampoo and other cleaning agents now severely irritate her skin.
She said: 'Whenever I get into the bath or use baby lotion the itching comes back. I’ve accepted that it’s something I will have to live with.
'I tried to find other women who have experienced the same situation, but I didn’t find much on the internet. Thankfully, the dermatologist has been brilliant.
'I wanted a girl but, despite everything, I’m so glad I’ve had Jacob. It’s been a nightmare, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
'After the birth I swore I would never have any more children, but I’m starting to feel a bit more confident, and we’re already considering having a second child.
'I’m scared my symptoms will return when I have more kids, but I won’t let it put me off. Despite my bizarre allergy, having Jacob is still the best thing I’ve ever done.'