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November 29, 2005

Food Allergy Holiday Cookbook Available

Helping Children of All Ages Enjoy Delicious,Allergy-Free Holiday Treats!

FAIRFAX, Va., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has launched its Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook to ensure that children of all ages with food allergies and their families can enjoy a delicious and allergy-free holiday season.

Stuffed with more than 150 tempting recipes, the cookbook features popular holiday recipes for special occasions throughout the year, made without common allergens that cause 90 percent of allergic reactions to foods. "The holidays are very much about food and children!" said Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN founder and CEO. "We want families with food allergy considerations to have a holiday season filled with delicious things to eat just like everyone else. We hope that our cookbook will encourage families to cook and bake together, and that children with food allergies will discover that they too can have and share delicious holiday treats."

The Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook includes traditional holiday favorites such as gingerbread cookies, holiday sugar cookies, raisin and spice cupcakes, Yule bars, taffy candy canes and of course, cookies for Santa. It encourages cooks to bring their children into the kitchen to help.

While all of the recipes in the cookbook are family friendly, there is a special section devoted to kid-friendly recipes that parents can use to cook with their children year-round. To assist cooks who are just entering the world of allergy-free cooking, the cookbook provides directions on how to read food labels. Holiday facts and cooking tips are also listed throughout the cookbook, and all recipes are marked to indicate which of the major food allergens are excluded.

The cookbook also offers recipes for foods that are popular to serve during other special times in the year, to include Super Bowl Sunday, Easter, Independence Day, Jewish holidays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

To order a copy of the Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook, please call 1-800-929-4040 or visit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Posted by David at 9:52 AM

November 26, 2005

Teenager with peanut allergy dies after a kiss

According to news reports today, a Quebec teenager with a peanut allergy has died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut butter earlier in the day.

The fifteen year old went into anaphylactic shock and was not helped by a shot of adrenalin. It is unknown how soon the adrenalin was given to counteract the reaction.

Peer pressure is real and the importance of not hiding the allergy from friends is critical, especially if there is going to be intimate contact. We don't know what was communicated ahead of time and the contamination was likely accidental.

Our prayers go out to the victims parents and friends.

Posted by David at 7:55 AM

November 25, 2005

Managing the Holiday Season with Allergies

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology suggests the following 12 tips to help you manage the season:

1. Before decorating a live Christmas tree, allow it to dry out on an enclosed porch or garage. You also may want to explore whether the tree retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some allergens from the tree.

2. Clean artificial Christmas trees outside before decorating. They can gather mold and dust in storage.

3. Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before displaying.

4. Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that cannot trap dust mites.

5. When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.

6. When attending holiday parties, inform the host about your food allergy and ask about the ingredients used to prepare the meal.

7. Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you accidentally eat a food to which you are allergic. Homemade items do not have ingredient lists and can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with storage containers, baking sheets and utensils.

8. Remind family members and friends that strict avoidance is the only way to manage food allergies and even one little bite can hurt.

9. If visiting relatives' homes who have pets, take medication before arriving to minimize a possible reaction.

10. The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Pay attention to your stress level, which can sometimes lead to an asthma attack.

11. Ask your relatives and friends to avoid burning wood in the fireplace. The smoke can trigger an asthma attack.

12. Dust mites can be especially troubling when traveling away from home, take your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover and request down-free pillows if staying in a hotel.

Following simple preventative measures can help avoid potential allergy and asthma symptoms. Being prepared to treat your symptoms if they occur is also important. If your symptoms persist, consult with an allergist/immunologist who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.

Posted by David at 9:30 AM

November 23, 2005

Ignorance in the press

Well, our uneducated press is at it again, this time attacking the topic of peanut allergy with little knowledge of the topic. Apparently no research is required before getting any article published in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Freedom of speech or just not enough news in HI to fill the web page? Anyhow, let’s take a closer look at the would-be-funny-if-it-had-some-intelligence-built-in article.

After comparing the pending bird flu pandemic to the “lowly peanut” the author goes on to say this...

A peanut allergy can be so severe that if a kid even sees a picture of a peanut in a magazine, he can go into shock.

Well that’s a new one for me, someone who has research the topic and is pretty familiar with the extreme cases. Maybe he was confused, maybe someone had some form of a sleep apnea attack after reading one of his articles?

Students who want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches soon will be relegated to lunch tables in the parking lot (near the smoking teachers).

Okay, I’ll admit, the picture this paints has some element of humor in it. You know, the 40 year old teacher with the rough voice and leathery skin saying to a student at the end of the table with jelly stains on his shirt, “Hey kid. Pass the ashtray, would ya.”

I suspect it has something to do with the decrease in breast-feeding in favor of chemical-laden baby "formulas." One purpose of breast feeding is to pass on to the child immunities enjoyed by the mother, or at least her taste for spicy foods.

You suspect? Well, given your intense research and knowledge of this topic, we readers really appreciate your insights here.

The fact is, not a lot of kids are dying from peanut exposure. Only 200 people nationally die each year from all types of allergic reactions.

I always love this stat. We, as a country, are now well educated on the dangers of severe food allergies and are much more prepared to handle them. So, now that the number of cases have grown exponentially (and we still don’t know why) yet only 200 people die from exposure, we should kick back and let up on our efforts to keep the kids safe. Sounds like a great idea, eh?

And many people grow out of allergies. I was allergic to eggs when I was a kid. But my dad seemed to have so much fun eating a soft-boiled egg (chipping off the little top of the egg, spooning the gooey mess onto toast) that I willed myself to overcome the allergy. Maybe kids suffering from "peanut envy" when they see other children enjoying a PB&J sandwich eventually will overcome their allergic reactions to the lowly legume.
Another great misnomer is that all allergies are outgrown. Okay, one more time for those who have done little to no research (that would be you, Mr. Honolulu)… peanut allergy is rarely outgrown and tends to become more severe with every exposure. Childhood egg or milk allergies are often outgrown. Good thing your dad didn’t like shelling peanuts at home and throw the shells on the floor, eh?

Posted by David at 9:34 AM

November 21, 2005

Humor and child food allergies

In the book May Contain Nuts the author mixes up the neurotic parenting approach with keeping kids with food allergies safe in an attempt to add humor to his book. The author, John O'Farrell, is a well know satirist in Britain and his book has received very favorable reviews - so good, in fact, I might just order it.

"With a comic eye for detail that has sent his books to the top of the British best-seller lists, May Contain Nuts is a funny, compelling, and provocative satire of the manic world of today’s overcompetitive, overprotective families."
source: Amazon.com

The story is about parents who are looking to give their kids every edge in life. The problem is, the harder they push, the more the more they worry about their kids. Are the foods my kids eat or the amount of exercise they get hindering their child’s mental development?

The problem is their kids don't have food allergies and the "May Contain Nuts" title comes from the mother fretting over a label that says that, when, in fact, it is a label on a jar of nuts.

So, if you read the book, let us know if its funny. And for those of us who do have kids with real food allergies, lets be careful of how we portray ourselves in our own life story.

Now, if Mr. O'Farrell could just change the title....

Posted by David at 9:07 AM

November 18, 2005

Infant and Toddler Food Allergies - the early years

Our 3rd child exhibited signs of food allergies very early. I remember many a night walking back and forth with her in my arms, trying to calm her down. She was showing signs of eczema. At that time, I was unfamiliar with any type of food allergy. It wasn’t until she was a toddler did we finally get her tested for food allergies and, boy did she ever have child food allergies… nuts, wheat, barley, beef and eggs (and some other I don’t remember now).

Many new parents will experiment and try to introduce table foods to expand their child’s diet. But according to Samuel Grubman of St. Vincent’s Hospital in a recent article on
infant food allergies, if given before the age of one, some foods can cause serious, even fatal reactions.

“The first sign of allergy usually in infants is eczema, which is a dry, itchy, scaly skin condition the hallmarks are really itching and dryness and redness of the skin. You can develop more severe manifestations all the way to anaphylaxis, which could include wheezing, cardiovascular collapse.”

“There are certain foods that are not recommended for the first year of life, eggs are not recommended, shell fish, fish, nuts, peanuts are not recommended until after the first year of life, specifically after the age of two,” cautioned Dr. Grubman. Citrus fruits, strawberries and chocolate should all be avoided.

If you or your spouse suffer from allergies (especially food allergies) or your other kids are allergic you should definitely avoid the most common food allergy foods, such as nuts, shell fish and eggs.

As always, we recommend you consult with your trusted allergist before introducing your child to any new foods.

Posted by David at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2005

Child Food Allergy Legislation

Check out the article about new Food Allergy Legislation in Calgary. The article says some parents of food allergic children are not sure legislation is necessary, but believe it helps with awareness.

The individual schools are responsible for how they protect the 12,000 children in the province who have allergies. The article also mentions similar legislation in Ontario is expected.

"Only through education and awareness and training can anaphylactic children truly be safe in schools," one parent is quoted. "A regulation or a guideline, in our opinion, never equals law. Law imposes new duties on school boards."

An allergy specialist, says legislation may not be needed because schools already have policies in place to protect children. He said segregating food in certain areas could also give allergic students a false sense of security.

At the elementary school they have trained all teachers how to use the EpiPen students need if they go into anaphylactic shock. Additionally, they wash the lunch tables with bleach each day, so that children with allergies have a truly clean surface on which to eat.

Posted by David at 8:43 AM

November 11, 2005

There is hope in outgrowing child food allergies

A new study came out about childhood food allergies, specifically peanut allergy and tree nut allergy. The study found that 9% of children allergic to tree nuts outgrow their allergy over time, including those who’ve had a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis shock. The research was done at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and was funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The results are reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. One conclusion was that children with these allergies should be regularly re-evaluated. Previously reported research stated that up to 20% of children outgrow peanut allergy.

278 children, ages 3 to 21 years old, with a known allergy to tree nuts were evaluated. 9% of subjects passed oral food challenges, a standard test to see if a child has outgrown a food allergy. The test should only be done by the allergist... DON'T try this at home.

The study also found that, of children allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, those who had outgrown their peanut allergy were more likely to outgrow the tree nut allergy. Children who are allergic to more than one type of tree nut are unlikely to outgrow their allergy.

Posted by David at 11:06 AM

November 8, 2005

Other parents providing treats?

The Kansas City Star just ran a piece from Parenting magazine regarding a question from a parent of a non-food allergic child. Claire McCarthy from Harvard Medical School responded to the question in a concise and informative manner, however, from the parent of the child with the food allergy, I have a different perspective.

The article said managing the food allergy situation wasn't simple and it needs to be taken seriously, because the allergic reaction can be life-threatening - a good message to send. It then went on to state how the other parents in the class need to read ingredients and look for hidden allergens in the ingredient listings.

Peanuts show up in places you wouldn’t expect. Nuts are often blended into cereals, granola bars and baking mixes. Many soups use nuts as thickeners, and a variety of foods are made with peanut oil. And many foods without nuts are processed on machines where peanut-containing foods were made, which can cause a reaction in an allergic person. Even plain M&M’s can have traces of them, for instance (as can lots of other chocolate candies).

I've said before (and will again, I'm sure), I do appreciate other parents not bringing food containing nuts to my kids classroom. On the other hand, how bad would that parent feel if they made a mistake? I know our friends would feel terrible. So, we do a combination of safe steps. First, we ask that parents not bring snacks containing nuts. Second, we always provide the snack for our own child. Think of it as two layers of protection. It works for us.

Posted by David at 4:33 PM

November 1, 2005

Traveling with Child Food Allergies

Just saw a good article on staying safe while traveling with child food allergies.

There is a book written by Marlene M. Coleman, MD addressing safe travel specifically. Titled "Safe and Sound - Healthy Travel With Children" Dr. Coleman gives prudent advice on not taking chances while on the road. She is a Board Certified Pediatrician with a subspecialty in travel medicine. She also teaches Family Medicine at the University of Southern California Medical school and lectures on healthy travel with children.

The article lists many available resources, such as:

"Traveling with a Food Allergy: Foreign Sources of Information" that lists contacts and organizations in foreign countries and translations for common allergy words at www.foodallergy.org.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offers online referrals for both U.S. and international physicians at www.aaaai.org.

Select Wisely sells food translation cards “for travelers with food allergies, sensitivities or dietary restrictions.” The laminated, wallet size cards are available at www.selectwisely.com.

Posted by David at 10:02 AM