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March 31, 2007

More products from AllergyHaven.com

Another product sample we received from AllergyHaven.com was a tiny toddler t-shirt with a fun graphic stating this child is allergic to nuts.

Although we no longer need tiny t-shirts in our home, what a great idea!!! We wish we had some of these cute designs when our kids were toddlers! This would be a good idea for those kids allergic to milk or eggs too.

They also sent some pantry labels as well. The stickers for the pantry are a great way to foster their independence and empower the kids with food choices. The stickers come in two colors: red=not okay and orange=okay to eat. We thought the "OK" food stickers should be green to follow the red=stop and green=go thinking.

To see more of their products, go to AllergyHaven.com.

Posted by David at 10:42 AM

March 27, 2007

Investigation into Food Allergy Death Begins

Still wondering if it's time to refresh your training of the care givers to your children?

Here are excerpts from a sad article from ABC News Australia regarding a boy that died - apparently of a reaction to peanuts.

"Four-year-old Alex Baptist, from the Melbourne suburb of Mentone, suffered an allergy to peanuts.

He died at his kindergarten in September 2004 after eating morning tea.

The court has heard he died of symptoms consistent to a severe food allergy....

In evidence, Alex's mother Martha Baptist said a kindergarten staff member visited her at home to explain she accidentally jabbed herself with a life saving dose of adrenalin she tried to give to Alex when he became ill."


Posted by David at 8:16 AM

March 26, 2007

AllergyHaven.com product review

We recently received a few products from AllergyHaven to review.

We tried them out with our 11 year old daughter.

The belted fanny pack for the Epi-pens was great. She liked that it was soft material and it actually fit her body. I like that it holds 2 Epi-pens and has a red medicine tag on the outside to alert others in case of an emergency.

The scout-type buckle makes the size fully adjustable, although takes some getting used to. Our daughter said it would be good for school field trips! I took it camping last weekend and found it to be much more comfortable than our bulky, regular-sized fanny pack. Forget putting a cell phone and snacks in it, this is a single use pack - just right for those long days of wearing it around.

We also looked at a pocket-purse style Epi-pen holder. It is compact and seems easy enough to throw in a larger purse, a sports bag or even a school backpack! We thought the red medicine tag could be sewn on the outside like the other pack. We also thought the material could be made of a waterproof or at least a more durable material if it was going to be in a sports bag or backpack. My daughter thought there could be the option of having different sports-motif patterned materials, like soccer balls or softballs.

Overall, these are high quality products that should last many years of regular use. Thank you to the folks at AllergyHaven for creating products the Child Food Allergy community needs!

Posted by David at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2007

Who Do You Trust with Your Child's Food Allergies?

I just got back from another camping trip with my daughters. We went up to the mountains, shot BB guns, did some archery, climbed a rock wall and did lots of hiking. At this particular camp, run by the YMCA, they also prepared meals in the mess hall.

I called the camp leader a week before we arrived to check out menu and ingredients for the trip. I was told, "No problem, we deal with child food allergies all the time." I was starting to feel better about my food allergy concerns.

So, the leader connected me to the kitchen staff. They faxed me a menu for the week and promised to send a list of ingredients. "This is impressive" I thought. The menu came, I circled a few things and asked about the ingredients. I didn't hear back before the campout, so I did as I always do and packed extra food in our cooler.

We arrived on Friday night to a confused camp counselor who said, "Oh, we don't make special accommodations or change the menu for food allergies. You, as the parent, are responsible." Hmm. That didn't feel too good. So I asked to see the camp leader, the man I talked to on the phone originally. With a big smile on his face he said, "No worries, we'll take care of you."

I fed my daughter from our cooler Friday night and Saturday morning. There were eggs served (she's allergic), so we took care to keep her food separate. Then came lunch on Saturday. Oh boy...

We arrived at the mess hall to find steak and chicken fajitas served on tortillas that were nut free. Sounds pretty good until we look at the front counter and see three large jars of PEANUT BUTTER and some jars of jelly! ARGH!!!

I rushed over to the counter and asked my kitchen contact, "We're these on the menu you sent?" Her answer? "No, these are just extras we put out for the kids." I found the camp leader and asked that he remove the PB&J for the rest of the weekend, he apologized and did just that.

"Extras?" Are you kidding me? I wanted to scream.

I went out of my way to make sure it was safe. The camp leader assured me they knew how to handle food allergies. The kitchen staff faxed me a menu ahead of time. And THEN went ahead and served peanut butter?

To top it off, this same camp runs summer camps for kids. In those situations, the parents just drop off their children and wave good bye. What if THAT was the situation here? I would have been given all the assurances of "we deal with this all the time" and could have received a call home that would go like this...

"Yes, David, I know we assured you everything would be safe, however, your daughter accidentally ingested some of the peanut butter we served during lunch."

I'm sorry for ranting here but THIS is exactly why we as parents of food allergic children simply cannot relax when it comes to entrusting our kids with others.

We need to be prepared for emergencies. Don't leave your kids with adults who don't know how to use an epi-pen. In fact, see them demonstrate how to use it. Don't trust kitchen staff 100%.

The best we can do sometimes is just not enough. Be concerned, ask more questions, find out their emergency plan. Where is the nearest ER? Then say a prayer that God will keep your child safe.

Here's to educating those who care for our children in our absence.

Posted by David at 5:18 PM | Comments (5)

March 6, 2007

Can We Really Prevent Child Food Allergies?

MayoClinic.com published an article regarding the prevention of food allergies in children this week. My question is, can we really do anything to prevent food allergies?

Over the past 10 years, we've learned a lot about food allergies. We've seen studies that show a doubling in the in number of peanut allergies. We've seen research stopped because of people dying in the process. We've seen articles on how to avoid food allergies. Seems to me, we still don't know why food allergies happen or how to keep them from happening.

Still, there may be an advantage to following the advice given by MayoClinic...

Avoid peanuts during pregnancy and while nursing.

Give your child only breast milk for the first 6 months.

Wait until your child is 6 months old to introduce solid foods.

Introduce cow's milk after one year.

Wait to introduce eggs until age 2.

Introduce nuts and seafood at age 3.

Introduce all new foods gradually and one at a time.

Give your child cooked or homogenized foods.

We look at this list and say, "Yep, did that and did that one, too." Still, 2 out of our 4 children have severe food allergies. Hmmm. Same parents, same environment, avoided same foods, yet 2 have the allergies and 2 don't.

Until we get it all figured out, I think the best food allergy avoidance advice is this, "...each child is different — so the best approach is work with your doctor or a pediatric dietician to come up with the best dietary plan for your child."

Posted by David at 9:20 PM | Comments (3)

March 1, 2007

Does the Food Allergy Labeling Law Go Too Far?

Presenters at the at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) annual meeting say that food allergy labelling rules may create challenges for the food allergy community.

Beginning January 2006, the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) came into effect and required producers to label whether their products contain any of the 8 common food allergens. We've all see the "may contain" statements to identify egg, peanut, milk, tree nut, fish, shellfish, wheat or soy.

Researchers at University of Nebraska-Lincoln analysed labelling of cookies in summer 2005 and then in summer of 2006. They purchased every type of cookie available at four major stores in two states and reviewed the labels for compliance with the act. They found the new law is definitely having an impact.

Of 821 different types of cookies examined, 82% were in compliance 6 months ahead of the new rules. Imported cookies were less likely to be compliant than cookies produced domestically (70% compared with 86%).

One concern raised is the increased difficulty for those on avoidance diets. Food allergic consumers have many fewer choice because of the increase in "may contain" warnings on food labels. Does the new law go too far? The study found that only 7% of cookies have peanuts in the ingredient list, but another 39% had "may contain peanuts" warnings.

As parents, we tend to err on the side of safety. If it says "may contain", it's off our list. Are our kids missing out on some store bought goodies? Sure. However, I'd argue that they are eating much better and healthier because their mom loves them and puts in the extra effort on the homemade cookie front.


Posted by David at 7:28 AM