November 29, 2006

Changing of the Guard - When someone new is in charge of your food allergic child

We all know how much work it is to create a safe, well informed environment outside of our home for our children. With regard to child food allergies, sometimes it takes years of education and diligence to get comfortable with our school, our church or our karate studio. So, what happens when there is a changing of the guard, so to speak, at one of these places?

Here's the situation... the person at the top (a principal, a director a studio manager) moves on to greener pastures and a new leader comes in. Maybe this leader is well versed in the dangers of child food allergies, maybe they're not. Maybe they say they know "all about food allergies" and what they know and what you know are two very different things. Maybe they say, "oh, my brother had a peanut allergy when he was a kid, so don't worry about it, I'm very familiar with allergies." What does that mean really?

I'll tell you what it means to me... squat! Look, I'm not excited about having to "re-train" someone, however, I don't take anyone's word for it when they say they know all about children with food allergies. I'm from Missouri when it comes to that... show me. Demonstrate to me that you understand food allergies by asking the right questions of me. How do you deal with menus and cross contamination? Explain to me your specific experiences with a food allergy emergency. Talk to me about the training you've received and how to administer and Epi-pen or Twinject.

A changing of the guard to me is an opportunity to brush up on our communication skills and make sure our epinephrine isn’t expired.

Posted by David at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

October 11, 2006

Frustration with Food Allergy Negative Press

Every once in awhile, I will read an article that blasts the food allergy community for being overprotective and sounding the alarm. It is true that child food allergies do not kill many people worldwide and rarely cause death. However, the real affect of child food allergies is the impact on a child and parent's quality of life.

Food allergies impact the allergic child as well as her family. The impact is not just social, but emotional and financial. Despite the far reaching effect, food allergies are still given a low priority because the number of deaths as a result of a reaction.

We can break this mind-set and promote a better understanding of child food allergies through clear communication. Using the parenting resources available, such as this site, can give parents the tools to calmly, clearly communicate and educate those who are involved in our children's lives.

I, for one, would like to see more articles about parents who are taking a practical approach to managing their child's food allergies and empowering their child to live life to its fullest.

Posted by David at 1:47 PM

September 5, 2006

Good Introductory Article from San Diego on Child Food Allergies

Parents adapt menus for son's food allergies
source: San Diego Union Tribune
By Triveni Sheshadri

When he was 8 months old, after eating a meal of cereal and macaroni and cheese, Nathan Wagner had to be rushed to the emergency room with a swollen face and skin that had turned bright pink.

A follow-up visit to a specialist confirmed Sue Wagner's suspicion that her son had food allergies. But instead of the one or two triggers she was expecting, the doctor reeled off a long list of foods that could harm Nathan.

Chief among them are mustard and peanuts, which in some people can cause severe anaphylactic reactions such breathing difficulty. For those who have food allergies, milk and milk products, eggs and soy can cause hives, swelling, vomiting and anxiety.

“When I heard the doctor, I was thinking, 'What do I feed him when he gets hungry 20 minutes from now,?' ” Wagner said.

Nathan, now 5, is among the 12 million Americans who suffer from food allergies. Of those, 3 million are schoolchildren. The leading triggers are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

Nathan's family has adapted to his needs. All of his meals are prepared at home. Wagner packs a lunch bag, epinephrine and antihistamine even on a short trip to the supermarket. Nathan's 3-year-old sister, Aubrey, makes sure she washes her hands after eating a bag of Cheetos. Wagner and her husband have learned to read food labels, a task complicated by multiple names for foods.

“It's bit overwhelming,” Wagner said. “Milk can be lactose and eggs can go by albumen. At that point you don't think about what you can't have. You switch to the positive and think about what you can have. You start with your staples, your building blocks.”

Nathan is a healthy and active kindergartner who loves animals. His favorites are reticulated pythons and boa constrictors. “I want to be a herpetologist,” he said.

His parents try to find a balance between keeping Nathan safe and allowing him to do the things he loves, such as playing soccer and attending Padres games. On trips to Petco Park, Wagner and her husband make sure people sitting near them don't throw peanut shells in their direction. They are always on the alert for triggers that lurk in unexpected places, such as toys and toothpaste.


Posted by David at 10:20 AM

August 30, 2006

What Everyone Should Know About Child Food Allergies

Child Food Allergies are all around us. Whether you child has them or you know kids with food allergies, there are some things you should know. Our friends at FAAN have compiled a list of 6 things everyone should know about food allergies.

1. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to prevent a reaction. Trace amounts of an allergic food is enough to cause a life threatening reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Do your best to adhere to guidelines and food policies in your child’s class so every child will be safe.

2. One in every 17 children under 3 has food allergies. Symptoms range from a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and many more serious reactions. If you suspect that your child could have a food allergy, discuss it with your pediatrician. He or she will likely have you keep a food diary, for 1 to 2 weeks, of everything your child eats, what symptoms they experience, and how long after eating they occur. This information, combined with a physical examination and lab tests, will help the doctor determine what, if any, food is causing symptoms.

3. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.), wheat, soy, fish, shellfish (lobster, crab shrimp etc.) Although, a person can be allergic to any food. Every day products like, cupcakes, crackers, candies, chips, finger paints, molding clays, soaps and shampoos have traces of these products. Parents of children with food allergies must be extra vigilant about finding foods and products that are safe for their kids.

4. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can involve various areas of the body (such as the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system). Symptoms occur within minutes to two hours after contact with the allergy-causing substance but, in rare instances, may occur up to four hours later. Anaphylactic reactions can be mild to life threatening. This is an extremely scary scenario for many parents - if you suspect a child in your care may be having a reaction, call 911 immediately.

5. Food allergy reactions account for over 30,000 emergency room trips each year. It is estimated that 150 to 200 people die annually due to anaphylaxis from food allergies. It’s a serious condition.

6. Approximately 2.2 million school-aged children have food allergies. According to a recent survey done by 400 school nurses for the Journal of School Nursing, 94 percent of the nurses have at least one student with potentially life threatening food allergies. According to the same survey the average public school in the U.S. currently has 10 students with food allergies.

Food allergy facts obtained from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). FAAN advocates for state and federal laws, policies, and regulations that can improve the lives of individuals affected by food allergy and anaphylaxis. To lean more about food allergies log onto their Web site

Posted by David at 4:28 PM

July 19, 2006

Food Allergies - One More Thing to Blame on Mom and Dad

We know that food allergies have a genetic component. How big a role does genetics play in child food allergies? Pretty big. In fact, you can blame both mom and dear ol' dad.

Research has shown that having one parent with allergies of ANY kind gives the child a risk of 33 percent; both parents having allergies gives the child a 66 percent risk. Now this is not just specific to food allergies. Specific allergies (for example nuts, wheat, pollen, cat) are generally not inherited, just the capacity to be allergic to these things.

Posted by David at 3:01 PM

June 28, 2006

Allergic Reaction of the Mouth

source: Judy Tidwell at

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

March 8, 2006

Peanut Kiss Did Not Kill Quebec Girl

When a Quebec girl with peanut allergies died recently after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut butter snack many hours before, it was widely reported, including here on, that she died from anaphylactic shock. We have now learned that the coroner has determined that anaphylatic shock was not the cause. The 15 year old girl instead died from cerebral anoxia, coroner Michel Miron said.

He did not specify what caused the lack of oxygen but Miron said he was speaking out now to head off an allergy association from using the case as an example. "The Canadian Association of Food Allergies intended to use the Desforges case to launch an education campaign," he said. "I had to tell them the cause of death was different than first believed."

source: AP

Posted by David at 8:43 AM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2005

School Parties with Food Allergies

As parents of children with food allergies, we know how frustrating it is sending one cupcake to a school party or birthday party so our child feels like part of the celebration. How often does the cupcake get smashed or the frosting stick to the container? I found a PERFECT SOLUTION!!! This website offers a unique container that "will hold a frosted cupcake in place with protrusions positioned in such a way that the cupcake will not move within the container if bounced, jiggled, or turned upside down." It's a container designed especially to transport one cupcake!

We have tested this product in our family over and over again. AND IT WORKS! I placed a beautifully frosted egg and wheat free cupcake in the container and carefully closed it. Then, just for fun, my husband and I played football with the container around our kitchen! After some great passes and occasionally a fumble, we surveyed the results. When I opened the container, the cupcake looked as beautiful as it did when I first put it in. I have since sent many a cupcake to school with my food allergic children in their lunchboxes. When the birthday child passes out cupcakes to the rest of the class, my child retrieves the allergy free cupcake from home, perfectly frosted and in tact. I feel so happy to have solved the dilemma "how do you get the frosting to stay on the cupcake instead of all over the Rubbermaid container or Saran Wrap?"

The plastic containers come in different colors and you can easily write your child's name on it with a Sharpie. They are also dishwasher safe. What more could you ask for? If your child isn't yet in elementary school and toting allergy free cupcakes hasn't become an issue, I still encourage you to check out the website. They fit great in diaper bags and can even be stuck on the bottom underneath wipes, bottles and clothes. When it comes cake time, there will be no more "where's the rest of the frosting?" tears. : )

Happy cake eating!

Posted by Ann Marie at 5:33 PM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2005

Yeah, my child has a food allergy too

Over the years, we been thankful for the people that we've met that have truly taken an interest in our children’s' food allergies. You know when someone not only "gets it" but also takes to heart the seriousness of a child food allergy. They are the people who show concern and ask how they can help - whether in the classroom, on the soccer field or perhaps at a play date.

Sometimes we run across parents who reply in a different fashion. "Yes, my son has peanut allergy too, every time he eats a cookie with a nut in it, he gets a rash." Really? Every time? (My best shot at electronic sarcasm.) We don't bother trying to explain that food sensitivity is not a food allergy or that if the child truly has a severe food allergy, they could be making it worse in the long term by not avoiding the allergens.

We even run into situations where a child has been to the Emergency Room several times a year for exposure to certain foods. I have to wonder where the parent's head is at in these situations. If you know your child has a life threatening food allergy, wouldn't you do everything in your power to keep them from eating it? E.R. visits are scary. Why put your child through that several times?

I may be missing something here. If you are a reader of this site, you know I am not of fan of over-the-top communication and protection of your child. I am a proponent of practical, prudent approaches to keeping children with a food allergy safe. Shouldn't a couple visits in the same year to the E.R. for anaphylaxis be a signal that you need to change things?

Make it a great day and let's keep 'em safe out there.

Posted by David at 8:37 AM

October 20, 2005

Friends cooking for your child - a good idea?

I always get more than a bit concerned about foods prepared outside of our home for our children with food allergies. I so appreciate the extended family and friends that show genuine concern and want to help by preparing allergen free recipes and it is so much better now than in the early years.

Here's our approach... we allow our kids to eat home cooked meals at only the closest of friends and relatives - people who have known our kids' situation for years and have demonstrated their understanding of the seriousness of the food allergies. We are lucky, our kids' aunts and uncles have gone to great lengths to take care of our kids when it comes to family get togethers. And this is on top of the fact that we live out of town, so they don't all deal with the food allergies on a regular basis (although now, some do... good ol genetics). The best part is that they still ask us about ingredients and what is safe for the kids.

When we get calls from well-intentioned parents from school or sports teams, we thank them for their concern but simply provide snack for our own children. Although we appreciate their effort, we don't feel it is right to expect them to go the extra mile in preparation and take the burden of responsibility if something went wrong despite their best intentions. So, not preparing peanut butter cookies for the soccer snack is much appreciated, however, we'll make sure we bring a peanut free snack and an Epi-Pen just in case.

Posted by David at 8:15 AM