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Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13 – 19, 2012.

Food Allergy Kids of AtlantaFood Allergy Awareness Week is the week of May 13 – 19, 2012. My daughter was diagnosed at age two with a peanut and egg allergy. She is now five and will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

I am preparing now for keeping her safe at school and that will require meetings with teachers, lunchroom staff, bus drivers and creating a health care plan. I have concerns such as peanuts brought in to the school for Georgia day where they were eaten outside by the playground (the dust is dangerous and can cause anaphylaxis) as well as other concerns such as candygrams given to children and peanut butter used in projects. This is why it is very important to establish a team based approach with your school and to communicate clearly what it is that you want for your child at school and writing it in a plan.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Nausea
Stomach pain
Diarrhea
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

Food Allergies are a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflict as many as 15 million Americans including almost 6 million children.

Children with food allergies: 1 in 13. That’s two per classroom.

Emergency room visits caused by food-allergic reactions each year: 203,000. That’s one every three minutes.

Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved — not just the kids (I know this from experience!)

Only eight foods account for 90% of the food-allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. And for those who may be unaware, even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction; there are no cures for food allergies.

It is the second anniversary for Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals. I am thankful for this wonderful group of people and their dedication to educating schools and restaurants to help keep our children safe.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a food allergy, or you think they have symptoms of one, go to an allergist and then find a local community support group. My daughter and I have learned so much from the wonderful families and doctors and you really feel like you are not alone as your learn to navigate in this food-centric world.

Resources:

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – local nonprofit in Atlanta

Food Allergy Statistics from FAAN, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Food Allergies By The Numbers – FAI

Safe@School flyer – FAAN – Presentation for schools about food allergy management and the seriousness in food allergy reactions (up to 25% of first time reactions in children happen in school.) 

Food Allergy Awareness Week – FAAN

Helpful Information and Documents – FAAN

The Balancing Act (video) – Food Allergy Awareness for Parents

Articles

Join us at the Atlanta Food Allergy Walk on October 2 at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, GA

Join us for the Food Allergy Walk in Atlanta on October 2. Money raised will help research food allergies and anaphylaxis of which there is currently no cure. There is also a blog about the walk. There will be lots of free fun family festivities after the walk in Dunwoody, GA as well.

Check-in for the Atlanta walk is at 9 a.m.; the walk begins at 10 a.m. at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody. It’s a two-mile walk, and baby strollers and wagons are welcome. A DJ, moonwalk, games, sponsor exhibits, and more will be onsite.

Atlanta’s 2010 honorary chairs include:

If you can’t participate, you can support a walker (me), give directly to the walk site, or volunteer on Walk Day. Individuals and teams are encouraged to register online. Please note: All walk participants, including children and infants in strollers/wagons, must be registered.

You can also currently nominate a child to be FAAN’s 2011 National Child Ambassador. Each $10 vote for your child is a donation to FAAN.

Also, welcome Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. FA Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals.

We are parents of food allergic children and advocates in our community, raising awareness on the importance of food allergy prevention and the seriousness in food allergy reactions.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Nausea
Stomach pain
Diarrhea
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

Over 12 million Americans have food allergies (that’s 1 in 25), and many experts insist that number is increasing. Just as an example: the incidence of a peanut allergy in children doubled in a five-year period (1997-2002).

Food allergies are most common in kids under three, where the occurrence is now one in 17 children. (My child falls into that category.) Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved — not just the kids (I know this from experience!).

Only eight foods account for 90% of the food-allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. And for those who may be unaware, even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction; there are no cures for food allergies.

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Food Allergies in Atlanta? You Are No Longer Alone!

My 3 yr old daughter has an egg and peanut allergy. It has been an educational and tough experience in dealing with my daughter’s allergies, keeping her safe, and working with her caretakers and friends and family to make sure she is protected.

I have found some hardships in sharing how to protect her from her allergies with our close friends and family. Most of the time they think I am overreacting or being too paranoid about checking the food to keep her safe.

But they don’t realize the extraneous dangers. They don’t live our days. Birthday parties, Christmas stockings, Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties are all just events that they attend without a thought of danger for their kids. I see danger in every class party, in every holiday event, in every bite of food. Which is why we need to respect every bite.

They don’t see my daughter’s sad face when she is left out of a “food art” project at school or when she can’t eat a birthday cupcake in her class from another student. They don’t see their child’s pain from being left out or perceived as different due to her food allergy.

They don’t panic when traveling and planning meals. They don’t have to locate the hospitals before going places. They don’t overhear their daughter about baking peanut free cookies so they are safe for her and her stuffed animal to eat. And her asking at every meal “does this have nuts or eggs in it?” which is a wise question for someone so young.

There is so much education that we have to share and give to our community. It’s so more than just “not giving our child a peanut butter sandwich” and that is why I am so glad that Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta is here.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with a food allergy, you are not alone.

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals.

We are parents of food allergic children and advocates in our community, raising awareness on the importance of food allergy prevention and the seriousness in food allergy reactions.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Nausea
Stomach pain
Diarrhea
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

There is no cure for food allergies.”

Food allergies are increasing.

“To successfully manage a food allergy, ones diet and lifestyle must change.”

About 12 million (1 in 25) Americans have a food allergy…children are the largest group affected.”

Peanut allergy in children doubled in a 5-year period from 1997-2002″

Teens account for almost half of food allergy fatalities.  Ages 10 thru 29 account for three quarters.”

Impact is broad:  family, friends, classmates, etc..”

Fear and anxiety are common among parents of children with food allergies. Parents live each day knowing that just one bite of the wrong food could cause a potentially fatal reaction

Together we can…….

Educate, Advocate, and Support

The above information was gathered from the following resources:
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/foods-allergy-intolerance
http://www.foodallergy.org/files/welcomingguests_2010.pdf
http://www.todayinot.com/ce/OT04/CoursePage/

Also, join us for the Food Allergy Walk in Atlanta on October 2. Money raised will help research food allergies and anaphylaxis of which there is currently no cure. There is also a blog about the walk. There will be lots of fun festivities after the walk in Dunwoody, GA as well.

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Food Allergy Awareness Week – Respect Every Bite

As a mom of a peanut and egg-allergic three year old daughter, I have learned so much about food allergies and the challenges it creates. Through my daughter’s grace, I have learned to accept the things I cannot control and to deal with things one day at a time. She is my sweet little girl and I worry about keeping her protected every day. We are learning together to read the labels, ask questions and be vigilant with food. We carry around an epi-pen and benedryl and it is an accepted accessory now, just like my purse. We talk to her teachers, friends’ parents, caregivers, and anyone else that we cross paths with and make sure they know about her allergies. We ask questions and research restaurants and places before we travel. Every meal is a concern, which is why we must respect every bite..

The most surprising thing I learned was how little the general public was aware of the implications of cross-contamination. A food product might not have peanuts in it but may have been processed in a plant that handles peanuts. That is a big deal for those of us with food allergies. The scary thing is that food manufacturers do not have to have the “may contain” statement so if it is not on the package, you have to call and find out.

My sweet daughter before she was diagnosed with food allergies.

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I am including some links to local Atlanta groups, the Atlanta Food Allergy Walk this Fall as well as peanut free snack ideas for the classroom and food allergy associations. Kids with Food Allergies has also announced a Faces of Food Allergies campaign that encourages kids to get involved. Add your picture to the photo gallery and spread the word to educate our schools and the entire community to respect every bite.

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network – sign up for email allergy alerts

Atlanta FAAN Food Allergy Walk 10/2/10

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – new nonprofit! Yeah!

Yahoo Group Atlanta Families with Food Allergies

Ask About My Peanut Allergy – Bo’s Food List (always read the labels as it may change) Safe snack ideas

Respect Every Bite, Because Every Bite Matters – great post by Smiling Green Mom about Food Allergy Awareness Week, resources

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Thoughts from a Food Allergic Child’s Mom in the Peanut State.

I spoke with my sister in Charlotte, NC and was surprised to hear that her school system has been strict with food allergies and labeling with what gets brought to school for almost six years. They serve Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches and if you bring in any snacks, it has to have the store label on it. No big deal but it can save a life.

In GA, however, it is an entirely different story. My daughter has an egg and peanut allergy and I was voicing my concerns to my sister over our schools in GA still serving peanut butter and allowing any snack foods (homemade or store bought) to be brought in to classroom parties and for the daily class snack.

And then it hit me. Tonight I saw a peanut commercial for the peanut industry in Georgia. I connected the political and economical connections between the state and the peanut industry and my heart sank. We will never have the same understanding in our schools as long as the peanut industry and lobbyists have a say in this state.

How heartbreaking is it to realize that I have an uphill battle? It’s more than having a peanut free table in the cafeteria. I mean, you still serve peanut butter on the menu so how will you protect a food allergic child from being exposed when kids can wipe it on a chair or table? Who checks to see that their hands are clean? And what about all the classroom parties and daily snacks where parents bring in anything?

I have more regulations with my daughter’s daycare at Primrose School (thankfully) and now I am considering keeping her there for private kindergarten. It is a battle that I hope most parents do not face. It has implications that go far beyond “just keep your kid away from the peanut butter.”

Peanut free snacks and companies who make them

As a result of online research, here are some companies that have peanut-free products. As always, read the labels to be sure.

Dare Foods (even have a no peanut symbol on packaging)
http://www.darefoods.com/usa-en/nutrition_centre/peanut_free/index.shtml

Divvies
http://www.divvies.com/

Enjoy Life
http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/ (has a store locator where you can buy their products)
allergy friendly, free of 8 common food allergens

Another list – again, be careful and read the labels.
http://www.avoidingmilkprotein.com/otherallergies.htm

Target carries SunButter and I.M. Healthy Soynut Butter and we have replaced our peanut butter with it. It tastes great.

Also, sign up for ingredient notices on the FAAN web site:
http://www.foodallergy.org/ingredients.html

Here is a new web site that I have discovered:

Snack Safely is my go-to list and it is updated frequently. Again, always read the label and call if you have questions.

Good luck and I will update as I find them.

Traveling with Peanut Allergy – Going to Disney

Well our trip to Canada was successful and our daughter was protected thanks to my family’s help. My mom found lots of peanut-free food items and we took mac and cheese when we went out to a restaurant to eat since they could not guarantee that it was peanut-free. We flew on Northwest which does not serve peanuts but their snacks might have peanut in them. We packed plenty of snacks for the kids and had a good trip.

Next we plan our trip to Disney World. They have a great web site that covers food allergies and have staff on hand for questions. I will be posting soon about preparations for dining at Disney as well as packing snacks.

Here’s the link for Disney travel tips for food allergies.

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/common/guestServicesDetail?id=GuestServicesSpecialDietaryDetailPage&bhcp=1 

All Walt Disney World* Resort Table Service Restaurants that accept reservations can accommodate most food allergies and food intolerances (such as gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose or milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or eggs) if requested at least 72 hours in advance by calling (407) 939-3463*.

Process for making a special dietary request for table service locations:

* Call the Disney’s Dining Reservation Center at 407-WDW-DINE or

(407) 939-3463*.

* Indicate to the Cast Member at Disney’s Dining Reservation

Center your special dietary requests.

* Know that your special dietary request will be noted by the Cast

Member on your reservation.

* Write down the dining location phone number(s) that the Cast

Member provides you, as well as your reservation number and the day and time of your reservation.

* Contact your dining location at least 72 hours in advance to

discuss your special dietary request with the chef, manager or food and beverage representative.

* Please feel welcome to speak to the chef or manager on duty when

you arrive at your dining location.

BRINGING SNACKS INTO PARKS: As an exception to standard policy, guests who have specific food allergies are permitted to bring their own small snack items with them into the theme parks.

Some other links:

http://www.allearsnet.com/menu/menus.htm 

http://www.allergymoms.com/uploads/newsletters/allergymoms2008traveltips.html 

http://www.allearsnet.com/din/special.htm

Traveling with food allergies pt. 2

We are off to Canada next weekend to see my Grandma. My parents are already there and have been on the nut-free food hunt for us. They found bread and Quaker has six new granola bars that are nut-free and made in a nut-free plant in Canada. It seems that Canada is ahead of the game in many aspects of being aware of food allergies and accommodating people.

I am still afraid of flying with her allergy and the snacks on the plane. We are flying Northwest Airlines and they don’t serve peanuts, but the snacks they do serve might have nut in them, so who knows. They will make an announcement at the gate if you ask when you check in as well.

I am still afraid of going to restaurants on our trip. I don’t like confrontation and it is my fear that I will bring up my daughter’s peanut allergy and they will say everything is fine and then there will be cross contamination and she’ll have a reaction. I have restaurant cards that I printed out and hopefully people will be understanding.

I am a new fan of Sunbutter. It does taste just like peanut butter and my older daughter loves it. My allergic one doesn’t like it but that is okay since I don’t want her to get used to it and then accidentally have pb somewhere else when she gets older. She might associate it with her initial reaction which was from pb.

I contacted Disney for our trip in September. They are great. They have an entire division for special diets. They recommend that you make reservations in advance. Then about 2-3 days before, call the restaurant and remind them about your food allergy. Then when you get to the restaurant, talk to the manager and chef and they will prepare a special safe meal for your child. I have read great things about them. Here is one families’ experience with it. I will blog about it after we go.

I bought two books – the Peanut Allergy Handbook which is a small book that you can put with your epi-pen and benedryl. It has pages to put medic-alert info and details on yoru child as well as helpful advice to deal with the allergy and if there is a reaction, what to do. It is also good to give caregivers. I also bought the Peanut Allergy Answer book. I will start reading it this weekend. They are both available on Amazon.

As always, be vigilant and educate everyone! We are in this together. It really does take a village.

Traveling with a peanut allergy

I am preparing to take my daughter on a trip in two weeks on an airplane. I called Delta and Northwest airlines. Northwest does not serve peanuts but their snacks might contain nuts. They will make an announcement at the gate if requested.

I also have to get a doctor’s note to travel with her benedryl and epi-pens. It is my fear that they will be taken in security. I will call the allergist’s office and post what I learn.

I just ordered two peanut allergy books from Amazon and will post about those too once I read them.

Information is power and learning how to manage it all and read labels is the most important thing for newly diagnosed families.

We had a birthday party for our oldest daughter who turned 5 last weekend. I ordered the Publix cupcake cake and made safe cupcakes for my youngest daughter. So that worked out okay as she broke out in hives from tasting a Publix cupcake a few weeks ago.

Small steps!!! Happy Friday.

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/resourcespre.php?id=114&title=travel_with_food_allergies

My daughter’s food allergy and food allergies in the news

Well my daughter is sick and last night I gave her benedryl so she could breathe since she was so congested. So now I have rescheduled our allergy appt to next Friday. She can’t have benedryl in 7 days before the skin test. So we will wait another week to find out what all she is allergic to in addition to peanuts.

I have been reading more about food allergies and to my pleasure, many mainstream publications have stories about them this month. It can only help educate people about how serious food allergies are with kids. I can’t imagine worrying about my daughter’s safety in the cafeteria at school, but in a few years, I will be right there with these parents.

Newsweek
My Turn: A Plea for My Daughter
http://www.newsweek.com/id/139437

Newsweek
Fear and Allergies in the Lunchroom
http://www.newsweek.com/id/62296?tid=relatedcl

The 411 on Food Allergies – Quiz – Know your food allergy facts?
http://www.newsweek.com/id/62097?tid=relatedcl

Redbook
Worried About Food Allergies?
http://www.redbookmag.com/home/worried-about-food-allergies

Trace Adkins has an article in June Redbook about his daughter’s allergies – here is an excerpt from People Magazine:
Trace Adkins Opens Up About His Daughter’s Near-Death Allergic Reaction
http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20202611,00.html 

BabyCenter Food Allergies Forum – I have received great support from wonderful moms
http://boards.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&webtag=bcus9266

I am a new Trace Adkins fan!
From CMT: Trace Adkins is working with the two U.S. senators from Tennessee to promote legislation to assist schools in protecting 2.2 million children nationwide who suffer from life-threatening food allergies. Adkins, whose 6-year-old daughter Brianna suffers from severe food allergies, raised public awareness of the problem while raising money for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, announced Monday (June 9) they will co-sponsor the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act to develop voluntary guidelines for schools to prevent exposure to food allergens and ensure a prompt response when a student suffers a potentially fatal reaction. The bill also calls for grants to be provided to implement food allergy management guidelines in public schools. Noting that he and his wife have been seeking this legislation for more than three years, Adkins said, “There have been no consistent standardized guidelines to help schools safely manage students with their food allergies. This bill will help keep kids safe while at school and parents will be more at ease knowing an action plan is in place.”

From www.Kidswithfoodallergies.org
Heed ALL warning statements

“There are now two studies that indicate may contains do contain the allergens in 10% of cases and that it does NOT matter if the statement says: may contain, run on shared lines with, or processed in a facility with, or processed in a facility that also processes “

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