« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

June 30, 2006

NJ needed a law for this?

According to an article on NorthJersey.com this week, a bill was approved unanimously this week by their state senate that allows children with food and other allergies to inject themselves with epinepherine.

The bill amends an existing law on the books that allows students with severe asthma to inject themselves with epinephrine. Apparently it was up to each district as to whether a student with a child food allergy was allowed to carry epinepherine. In some districts only a nurse could inject the life saving medicine.

Hmm. That's interesting. What did they do, exactly, before the bill passed? Well, read this excerpt...

In November 1996, German Lopez, 18, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, went into anaphylactic shock and died after eating a candy bar containing peanuts. Family members and school officials said Lopez knew about his allergy but was not aware that the candy had nuts in it. School officials said they did not know Lopez was allergic to peanuts. His mother told a school nurse she kept his medication at home.

He kept it at home? Ugh. Such a sad story and it seems clear that all parties involved failed that 18 year old - maybe even himself. Now, this was 10 years ago and we've all learned so much over that time. Also, the school didn't even know about his allergy. How much can they help if they aren't aware?

One of the representatives says,

"This is important, because there are students in classrooms across the state who have allergies who may be denied life-saving epinephrine if this bill is not passed," Kean said in a telephone interview. "Basically, my view is that in many instances, students who are deathly allergic to certain foods are placed in jeopardy every time they attend a school where epinephrine is not readily available."

Really? There are schools that are not treating this topic with the urgency and care it deserves? It seems that these days, there is WAY too much information to allow that to happen. Tap the resources out there like FAAN and our blog. Develop a personalized emergency action plan at home and make sure you are completely comfortable with the schools plan (we are all much more likely to have an emergency at school).

This is serious stuff. We have to be careful not to get lax in our diligence to keep our kids safe... or young adults as the case may be.

Posted by David at 3:18 PM

June 28, 2006

Allergic Reaction of the Mouth

source: Judy Tidwell at About.com

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), a manifestation of food allergy, is an allergic reaction that affects the lips, mouth, and pharynx. It can also manifest in other ways as explained in an email response from a visitor to this site:

"As someone who lives with this disorder, I'd like to set the record straight. It doesn't just affect the lips, mouth, and throat. If the food is cooked, one can generally eat it with seeming impunity. However, serious gastrointestinal distress (i.e, gas) will ensue. One's whole system is allergic, not just the oral area. I'll get a reaction if I have a cut and apple juice gets in it."

Who Is Affected?
OAS normally occurs in people with asthma or hay fever from pollen allergies who eat fresh (raw) fruits or vegetables. It can also affect people who are allergic to shell fish and eggs. Adults appear to be more affected than children.

What Happens?
An allergic response occurs when the over active immune system can not distingish the difference between pollen proteins and food proteins. When the immune system recognizes a "cross reactive" protein, symptoms develop.

Sometimes foods in the same botanical family, will also cause reactions. For instance, potato and carrot; parsley and celery; or apple and pear. This cross reactivity is referred to as clusters of hypersensitivity.

Rapid onset of itching of the lips, mouth, or pharnyx, and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and palate are the most commmon symptoms of OAS. Other symptoms may include gingivitis, conjunctivitis, or rhinitis. In rare instances, asthma or anaphylaxis may be triggered. Symptoms normally appear within minutes of eating the offending food.

Anaphylaxis has occurred in about two percent of people with OAS. The foods involved include lentils, tomatoes, apricost, peaches, pears, cherries, apples, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

Cross Reactivity
Individuals with birch allergy can cross react with apples, pears, almonds, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, peppers, and potatoes. Hazel nuts, almonds and walnuts are also associated.


Posted by David at 3:14 PM

June 26, 2006

US Air Puts the Nuts Away Once and For All

US Airways recently announced they will stop serving peanuts on their flight... again.

The airline had stopped serving peanuts more than six years ago but started again after merging with America West in 2005. They are apparently serving the remainder of their peanut snack inventory but after they are gone that's it. They will then substitute pretzels or other peanut-free snacks.

They stated that they made the move again in response to growing complaints from passengers who are allergic to peanuts. So, it pays to be vocal about your food allergy concerns.

Posted by David at 11:27 AM

June 22, 2006

Occurance of Child Food Allergies Skyrocket

source: Chicago Tribune on-line

The treatment for a severe allergic reaction to food has not changed much since the late 19th Century--a quick shot of epinephrine and a rush to the doctor to stave off the rapid closing of airways, brain damage and possibly death.

Medical personnel, from school nurses to chiefs of hospital pediatric departments say such near fatal allergic reactions are becoming more common in children. So three Chicago medical institutions said on Wednesday they will collaborate on an extensive study to determine the cause of the increase and will plead for more federal research funding.

"I've been treating children in the field of allergy immunology for 15 years, and in recent years I've really seen the rates of food allergy skyrocket," said Dr. Jacqueline Pongracic, head of the allergy department at Children's Memorial Hospital. "Where in the past it only represented a small proportion of my practice, now more than half of the children I care for have a food allergy."

Children's Memorial, along with University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, is seeking up to 900 families for an extensive study that may contribute to a cure.

Data on whether there are more children suffering from food allergies now than in years past remain sparse. Estimates have been that from 6 to 8 percent of children under 4 years old have food allergies, but some experts believe the percentage is growing.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, participated in a study that found allergic reactions to peanuts had jumped to 1 in 125 in 2002 from 1 in 250 in 1997.

"There are no studies looking in this country at whether the rate of food allergies has increased over long periods of time," Sicherer said. "However there are studies showing increases in other allergic diseases ... asthma, hay fever. If you put together all those sentences, or if you walk into any school and ask the school nurse if there has been more food allergies, all those things will lead to yes responses."

The accumulation of largely anecdotal evidence has prompted action in Chicago and elsewhere.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, announced last year it would spend $17 million over five years for a food allergy research consortium at Mt. Sinai in New York.

Spending on food-allergy research by the allergy institute more than doubled last year to $7.7 million.

But that remains a paltry sum, according to the researchers who gathered at Children's Memorial on Wednesday. They called on Congress to allocate $50 million annually for food-allergy research.


Posted by David at 9:22 PM

June 20, 2006

FAAN Sponsors San Diego's First Annual Food Allergy Walk

SAN DIEGO, June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of motivated San Diego
County residents are joining forces to organize a fund-raising walk to
build public awareness and raise money to help protect children with
life-threatening food allergies.

The Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure event, benefits The
Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), the nation's leading nonprofit,
patient advocacy organization providing information about food allergy.

The San Diego Walk is one of 18 nationwide events scheduled between
August and November. Registration is now open for walk enthusiasts, school
officials, community groups, government agencies, and families to
participate in San Diego's first Walk for Food Allergy, a 1.5 mile family
event that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006, with registration
beginning at 8 am at Balboa Park.

More than 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies. The majority
are school-aged children. Each year, the number of children diagnosed with
food allergies increases. Food-allergic reactions result in more than
30,000 emergency room visits each year. This allergy is the leading cause
of anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction) outside
the hospital setting. It is estimated that between 150 and 200 people die
annually from anaphylaxis to food, including children and young adults. To
prevent a reaction, food-allergic individuals must rely on strict avoidance
of the food to which they are allergic.

Amy Caterina of Del Mar, CA, will serve as Chair of the Walk for Food
Allergy. "Thirty years ago food allergies were almost unheard of,
especially life-threatening ones. Now, one in 25 Americans is affected by
food allergies," stated Caterina. "Families nationwide and the healthcare
industry are working to address this serious medical condition. The main
goal of our committee is to create a food allergy and anaphylaxis support
group based here in San Diego to provide education and support for local
families dealing with food allergies and anaphylaxis."

National sponsorship support comes from the generosity of San
Diego-based Verus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the distributor of Twinject(R), an
epinephrine auto injector used to treat anaphylaxis. Sponsorship support
also comes from PR Newswire, the global leader in news and information
distribution services for professional communicators.

"We're pleased to launch the 2006 Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward
A Cure with national sponsor Verus Pharmaceuticals," said FAAN CEO and
Founder Anne Munoz-Furlong. "Each Walk will help achieve our goal of
increasing education and awareness in communities across the country and in
preventing food allergy-related deaths. With each dollar raised, we are
closer to finding a cure."

For interview opportunities or volunteer/sponsorship interest, please
Contact Amy Caterina at 619-379-0054 or at sdfaanwalk@yahoo.com

Posted by David at 9:11 PM

June 14, 2006

Teenage Bully Pushes the Limit at Lunch

Here's another on-line article from news.com.au
that describes an attack on a 13 year old peanut allergic student. This is scarey stuff that ended up in a anaphylactic reaction. What I find most interesting is the parents reaction; it would have been easy to lose control at that point. They didn't take legal action, they chose to educate instead.

One in 20 Australian children is now allergic – potentially fatally – to some form of food. In the majority of cases the culprit is the humble nut. And now, across the country, the stakes are getting higher.

When the hunk of sandwich hit the back of his head, Daniel Browne – usually the most careful of 13-year-olds – instinctively swung around. His assailant, standing three metres away, wasted no time hurling another piece. This one stuck to Daniel's right cheek. Daniel pulled off the projectile and held it under view: a three-centimetre-square, open shred of bread . . . smeared in peanut butter. His cheek began to tingle but he did not yet feel fear.

Classes had just broken for lunch at the Gap State High School in Brisbane's west. Daniel, carting his backpack, tossed the food scrap in the bin and walked swiftly to a nearby water bubbler, where he prepared to activate the first stage of a management plan for his life-threatening allergy to peanuts. He reached into the backpack's front pocket and unzipped the bum bag that carried his EpiPen – an auto-injector capable of rapidly dispensing a dose of epinephrine (or adrenalin) into the bloodstream – slower-release antihistamine tablets, a Ventolin inhaler and Panadol. He punched out an antihistamine pill from its foil seal. Then his tormenter sidled up.

The boy was a classmate, with some grasp of Daniel's sensitivity to peanuts from their days at the same primary school. As payback for an earlier classroom altercation (Daniel reported him to the teacher for continually interfering with his work), he had chosen to fling the fragments of a peanut butter sandwich. It was a little after 1pm on a windy November day last year. And the stakes were about to climb exponentially.

Bending over the bubbler to take a mouthful of water in readiness for the antihistamine, Daniel heard a voice: "Would you like some of this" The boy waved another bit of the sandwich, peanut butter exposed, under Daniel's nose. "I was surprised, so I took a deep breath and inhaled," recalls Daniel, a bright student and talented pianist who at the time was nearing the end of Year 9. He gulped the tablet, but antihistamines take about 15 minutes to kick in and he knew he was no longer dealing with a lesser, skin-contact reaction. "Immediately, my eyes and throat and tongue started swelling," he says. "Eventually, my tongue cracked open and bled."

Daniel had gone into anaphylaxis: the bogey word among exploding numbers of food-allergic children in Australia and throughout the world. An anaphylactic reaction, the most violent form of hypersensitivity known, can cause circulatory collapse and airways to swell so tightly that victims are promptly denied breath. Invariably, they won't crawl out from under the allergic avalanche without the reversing effects of life-saving adrenalin.

Daniel grabbed his mobile phone and went to the pre-programmed number of the school office. "Look," he told a staffer, "you're going to need to call an ambulance. I'm on my way."

Before he took off, he dipped into the backpack again and picked out his EpiPen. When he got to the office, breathing was painful and practically impossible: "My tongue had marshmallowed and nearly filled my mouth. I couldn't draw breath through my mouth." Just before the ambulance's arrival, five to seven minutes after it was called, Daniel slammed his EpiPen into the muscle of his outer right thigh.

Sometimes, a single EpiPen shot is sufficient to counteract the march of anaphylactic symptoms. Yet in the back of the ambulance, Daniel succumbed to an episode of frightening scale. As his blood pressure dropped perilously low, five more doses of adrenalin, 125mg of hydrocortisone steroid, Ventolin and oxygen were administered in the ten-minute race to the Royal Children's Hospital. In the resuscitation area of the hospital's emergency section, he was intravenously fed 20 additional doses of adrenalin over the next five hours – or about one every 15 minutes. Around 6.30pm, he was stabilised and admitted to the intensive care unit where he remained for the next 17 hours.

HAVING COPED WITH DANIEL'S ASSORTMENT OF serious allergies since he was an infant – he has also had anaphylactic responses to mould and pollens – his parents, Don and Conny, thought they had seen and felt it all. But watching helplessly over their firstborn child as he almost died amid a tangle of machines, tubes and nine medical personnel in that emergency room, their distress segued to anger.

"It's changed everything," says 42-year-old Don Browne, a security software developer, "because the whole game turns around when you realise you're at the mercy of anyone. We can teach Daniel to recognise allergy threats in the environment and protocols for reducing risk. (But) we can do nothing about a deliberate assault."

The Gap High's principal, Regan Newman, was not briefed on the incident until he returned from leave at the start of the new school year. "I considered (the attack) to be a dangerous action, that concerned me," Newman says. An acting principal had served the offending boy with a three-day suspension from school, where he was later heavily counselled. The Brownes and the school were satisfied the boy hadn't comprehended that Alex's peanut allergy could be fatal. Police weren't called, and Conny and Don decided not to pursue legal action. This time.

Instead, they have turned their energies to awareness... more

Posted by David at 8:13 AM

June 12, 2006

Australian Study Shows Nut Allergies Doubled

Source: news.com.au

The number of children with allergic reactions to nuts has doubled in the past 15 years based on a new study which found 86 per cent of all childcare centres had at least one child with a potentially fatal food allergy.

Parents with children suffering from food allergies have expressed concern that school yards are one of their greatest fears because of the risk their children may be exposed to something that will cause a severe or fatal reaction.

Food allergies impact on 6 per cent of people and eight foods account for 90 per cent of all food-allergic reactions. These are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

Misunderstandings of food allergies have directly lead to the death of people from anaphylaxis.

Anne Swain, head dietician at Sydney's Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic, said there was clear evidence more children were suffering from food allergies compared with 15 years ago.

"We have just completed a survey at Prince Alfred Hospital and 2 per cent of all children under five have a peanut allergy – previously it was less than 1 per cent," Ms Swain said.

"It's not just more awareness of food allergies. There is definitely an increase. The survey showed that egg and milk allergies have not increased, but nut allergies have doubled.

"There are a whole lot of theories why. One of the main ones is there are more nuts in our environment.

"People choosing vegetarian diets eat more nuts – there are more nuts in breakfast cereals and people are using peanut butter as a spread for small children."


Posted by David at 7:55 AM

June 8, 2006

Restaurant Provides a Gluten-Free Menu

People who have a hard time finding something to eat in a restaurant can breathe easy at Beyond the Grain.

The West Des Moines eatery, which has six employees and seats 42, specializes in foods that can be tolerated by people with gluten allergies, vegetarians and diabetics. The restaurant has a full menu, including pastries, pizza, sandwiches, pasta and seafood.

Customers can order breakfast, lunch and dinner, or pick up baked goods to go.

Una Morgan opened Beyond the Grain in December with business partner Natalie Kepford.

Morgan, 50, has a food allergy. Kepford, 42, does not, although she and Morgan have been friends a long time. Morgan said Kepford understands what it's like to have what Morgan calls "the affliction."

source: desmoinesregister.com

Posted by David at 1:36 PM

June 6, 2006

Could I have a Food Allergy? Don't diagnose yourself.

We've met many people who, after hearing about our children's life threatening food allergies, say "Yeah, I am allergic to ____." Then of course we ask, "Well, do you carry an Epi-Pen?" And most respond, "What's that?" Oh my.

If you develop symptoms shortly after eating a specific food, you may have sensitivity or a full-blown food allergy. Some symptoms may include hives, swelled lips, and wheezing. In severe reactions, you may have low blood pressure and a swollen throat.

We advise never trying to deliberately cause a reaction by eating a food that you may be allergic to. Food introduction tests should only be done under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

The food causing the allergy can be identified by:

> Food elimination diets.

> Skin tests by an allergist.

> A blood test to identify elevated antibody levels.

Again, seek the advice of a competent professional rather than self diagnosis.

Posted by David at 1:46 PM

June 5, 2006

Banning nuts at a local stadium?

Here's a interesting editorial from the Edmunton Sun. I have to agree with the writer, the tail is waggin' the dog here. Unlike the West Michigan baseball team that created one peanut-free day, this stadium banned peanuts altogether. In my opinion, this ends up hurting the food allergy cause more than helping.

It looks like another case of a very small tail wagging a very large dog. Not an unusual state of affairs under the Sir Winston Churchill Square pyramids these days.

Without any apparent debate, forewarning or public consultation the city hall bureaucrats have taken action into their own hands and slapped a peanut-possession ban on patrons at Commonwealth Stadium.

This because one Eskimo fan wrote a letter of complaint about how her son with a peanut allergy gets "anxious" coming to the football games.

Even though Commonwealth is an outdoor stadium where we would have to assume peanut odour is quickly defused in the fresh air, city hall has ruled and the football club has fallen in line.

Commonwealth will now be a "peanut-free" facility and Eskimo season ticket holders will be warned to keep their nuts at home, or suffer the consequences.

In typical city hall fashion, nobody has a clue about how the ban will be enforced since there appears to be no bylaw in place to back it up.

And does this include candy bars with peanuts in them? Or what about fans who may have cooked a meal in peanut oil before attending a game? Are they going to be forbidden entry too, just in case they have a whiff of nuts on their clothes? The ridiculous length to which this argument can be taken knows no bounds.

The same kind of knee-jerk reaction occurred when city facility managers decided to cloak arena ice surfaces with a shroud of black mesh because a girl in the United States was struck by a puck and died.

Now parents must watch their kids play hockey and lacrosse through an annoying chicken wire screen in yet another case of severe city hall overreaction.

Although nobody is going to be seriously compromised by not having a sack of salted peanuts to munch while attending a football game, the arbitrary way the bureaucrats went about the nut ban raises some questions about who is in charge at city hall these days.

City councillors should have asked if the one child with the peanut allergy problem could have been accommodated without compromising the vast majority of Eskimo fans.

The question must also be raised, if peanuts are dangerous in Commonwealth, why can they be safely consumed in other city facilities? Or even on the street? Should they even be sold to the general public?

Certainly living with an allergy - whether it be peanuts or an array of other substances - can seriously restrict one's lifestyle. But in the Commonwealth case it appears to negatively impact large numbers of other people as well.

It's time for city council's peanut gallery to give Edmontonians some straight answers.

source: EdmuntonSun.com

Posted by David at 11:52 AM

June 2, 2006

Private Donor Enables New Jersey Schools to Adopt Food Allergy Program

source: PRNewswire

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), the nation's leading nonprofit, patient advocacy group raising public awareness about food allergy, today announced the availability of free programs to help school officials safely manage the 55,000 food-allergic students in New Jersey. Distribution of the multi-media School Food Allergy Program (SFAP), is entirely funded by a private donor, and allows FAAN to make the program available free to New Jersey's 2,400 public schools. The initiative makes NJ the second state to provide free educational materials to educators. A similar program was launched in IL last year.

Food allergy is a public health concern amongst children today. According to a survey taken of 400 school nurses, 94 percent of those school nurses have at least one student with a potentially life-threatening food allergy, according to the Journal of School Nursing. According to the same survey, the average public school in the U.S. currently has ten students with food allergy.

"Studies show that school settings can be risky for children with food allergies because food allergens appear not just in school cafeterias, but through classroom celebrations, crafts, and math or science projects," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN founder and CEO. "The School Food Allergy Program helps schools develop and implement strategies to minimize the risk of a reaction and safely manage children with food allergies in the school setting. We are confident that these training programs help prevent allergic reactions and save lives."

Nearly 12 million Americans have food allergies and approximately three million children under the age of 18, or one in 25, are affected. Twenty-five percent of first-time reactions occur in schools. Since there is no cure for food allergies, it is essential for all schools to have an action plan in place for managing food allergies and anaphylaxis. The School Food Allergy Program was created to provide schools with comprehensive information on food allergies and anaphylaxis, along with training materials to help school nurses, food service personnel, teachers, and administrators safely manage students who might experience a reaction while at school. The program can be ordered at no cost by principals, school nurses, or administrators. FAAN members can also nominate their schools (elementary, intermediate, and high schools) to receive a special edition of the School Food Allergy Program.

The School Food Allergy Program includes a training video, an EpiPen® trainer, Twinject(TM) trainer, two posters, and a binder filled with more than 100 pages of information and standardized forms. The program was endorsed by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the Anaphylaxis Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the Executive Committee of the Section on Allergy and Immunology of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The School Food Allergy Program is helping further fulfill FAAN's mission by educating more school administrators on food allergies and anaphylaxis, and the serious consequences of being unprepared for a food allergy incident.

To order your copy of the School Food Allergy Program, please visit www.foodallergy.org

Posted by David at 12:17 PM

June 1, 2006

Food Allergy Alert Clothing to Help Keep Toddlers Safe

Check My Tag, LLC introduces food allergy alert products for Toddlers. The patent-pending clothing line keeps toddlers safe. Each garment can be personalized with a child's specific trigger foods and emergency care instructions.

source: PRWEB

Check My Tag, LLC (www.checkmytag.com) announces a line of Food Allergy Alert apparel for toddlers just in time for Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 14-20). The patent-pending clothes are designed to help prevent anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) by alerting caregivers to the presence of food allergies as well as educating them on crucial life-saving steps in the event of a reaction. Experts estimate that up to 8% of children under the age of six in the U.S. alone live with life-threatening food allergies. The number of diagnosed cases has doubled in the last five years. Approximately 100 Americans, usually children, die annually from food-induced anaphylaxis.

The product line was developed by Ria Sharon, whose 13-month old son was diagnosed with severe food allergies in March 2005. “With his first anaphylactic reaction, my life changed,” Ria recalls. “I felt helpless to protect him against the potential dangers that lurked in so many commonly found foods.”

“I began searching immediately for resources that would help me manage his condition, in a way that would allow him to experience and enjoy life like any other child his age. Specifically, I wanted something that would give me back my confidence in being able to keep him safe. To my surprise, everything that was currently available in terms of alert products were not practical solutions for us.” Ria applied her creative skills to develop a solution that eased her own anxiety and empowered her son's teachers and babysitters to care for him safely.

Check My Tag clothes are safe from choking, strangulation and electric shock. Each garment can be personalized to include all of a child’s own specific trigger foods. In addition, ‘What to Do in Case of A Reaction’ is immediately accessible, rather than a phone call away. Her prototypes were met with such positive responses from childcare providers, physicians, and other parents that she recognized a way to help other families who face the same challenges.

Also available is a Safewear Kit that in addition to a shirt or a dress, includes food allergy accessories that assist parents in providing consistent communication to their child’s caregivers. Included in the Safewear Kit is a pouch for carrying medications, a detailed Emergency Action Plan, a Consent to Treat form, a door hanger, a poster, and a fabric pen.

Before deciding to spend more time to her children, Ria was the Creative Director for a marketing communications firm in St. Louis where she was responsible for multi-million dollar branding assignments. “I feel like my training and experience in design prepared me for this task. There are millions of young children in the U.S. suffer from food allergies. Until there is a cure, I am in a position to make a difference with products that educate and raise awareness. This alert product creates safer environments for all young children at risk.”

Check My Tag clothes and kits are available online at www.checkmytag.com or by calling toll free (888) 636-6405. Clothes retail for $25-$27. Safewear Kits retail for $35-$37. Check My Tag donates a portion of the proceeds to food allergy awareness and research organizations.

Posted by David at 12:26 PM