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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

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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.”

How I Protected My Egg Allergic Daughter and Still Gave Her the Flu Shot

I wanted to share my experience of getting my two year old her flu shot yesterday morning. She has an egg and peanut allergy. Flu shots have egg in them, so if your child has an egg food allergy, please go to the allergist and let them handle the immunization.

It is up to the parent whether to give their child a flu shot. If you decide to get one, it is not recommended getting one at the pediatrician’s office. The Allergist can safely test and administer the flu shot in the office. They do a series of skin tests and then low-level shots and are equipped to treat the child in the event they have a serious allergic reaction.

First, they put a drop on her arm and then lightly scratched it and we waited 15 min. They measure for reaction – it looks like a mosquito bite if there is one. She had one for egg but not for the flu shot.

Then they tested it just under her skin and we waited 15 min. She did have a reaction the second time, (mosquito bite looking bump) so we had to do the test shot in her leg, wait 15 minutes each time for reaction. She did not react each time, but it was hard going through with her. Luckily we went through all 6 rounds with no reaction and each dose gives a little bit more of the flu shot until she has had enough to protect her. Her Doctor said she was finished and off we went.

Even though it was difficult, I would still do it again if it means protecting my child from a more threatening flu. 

Tip – bring lots of snacks, toys, coloring items and reading materials because we were there about 3 1/2 hours.

Always research, always ask questions to your doctors, the nurses, you name it. You are the number one person on your family’s health team!

Now my daughter has an egg allergy in addition to peanut.

Here we go. First, the peanut allergy and now a suspected egg allergy. I gave her a bite of real scrambled eggs and she made a face, spit it out and shivered. I watched her for a few minutes and then she developed some small red bumps or hives around her mouth. I gave her benedryl and started to cry. We are just getting used to her peanut allergy and now we have to be careful with eggs. The weird thing is that she eats french toast sticks and they have egg in them. I called the allergist and set up an appointment in September for another skin test. Poor baby. I hate doing it but we have to know and I am going to check for all the rest of the common allergens while we are there.

The nurse said for now, avoid all eggs. I asked her about the frozen french toast sticks and she said that for some foods like frozen, processed french toast sticks, the egg protein is weaker since it is much further away from a pure egg. It might have been cooked out or the processing weakens it. So what does that mean? Well, no bakery items obviously and no eggs. But everything seems to have egg in it! Some breads have egg brushed on the outside! Here goes my paranoia scale – up and away.

I found a good sheet for egg allergies to avoid so we’ll start here. How are you all managing out there allergic moms?

And what about flu shots and other vaccinations with eggs in them? More questions for the doctor I suppose.

Egg Allergy Information
http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/egg_allergy.html

Foods to avoid with egg allergy –  print out for your wallet 
http://kidshealth.org/teen/misc/eggallergy_cutout.html

More egg allergy info
http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/health/1065007/

Peanut free snack ideas for the classroom

My daughter’s birthday is this Friday and I called her daycare and asked about bringing in a treat to celebrate. I was warned that there is a child with a peanut allergy, so no cake or cupcakes were allowed. I was shocked that bakery items even had trace amounts of peanuts but found through research it’s because they are made in a place where other peanut items are also made. This little known fact opened my eyes as I launched an internet search for peanut-free snack ideas for my daughter’s birthday celebration.

Here is a great article for all of us not familiar with peanut allergies and how many foods we don’t even realize have trace amounts of nuts:

If Your Child DOESN’T Have Allergies: Read This!

Food Allergies at School

Here is a list of snack ideas from a school. I can’t imagine what schools are going through now that allergies are at an all-time high.

Peanut free snack suggestions:

My favorite site to check for snacks is Snack Safely, a list of peanut, tree nut and egg free snacks. As always, read the labels and call the company if you have any questions. When in doubt, go without.

I think I have decided on Kroger brand ice cream sandwiches. But I still need to check the label for that specific package as even different factories have different products being made there and could possibly have peanut items.

Wow. I am thankful that so far my kids don’t have a peanut allergy.

So next time you look to buy vanilla ice cream for a party with kids with allergies present, think again. Nuts are found a lot in many ice cream flavors so even the nut free flavors could contain it. Check the label!

UPDATE***3/12/09***Well I have just updated this post and ironically, since this post I have discovered that my now 2 1/2 year old daughter has a peanut and egg allergy.  Be careful out there! Kroger carries Blue Bell chocolate and vanilla ice cream singles that are safe also and a good idea for the classroom. Easy to transport and serve, safe for all the kids. Good luck! My favorite site to check for snacks is Snack Safely, a list of peanut, tree nut and egg free snacks. As always, read the labels and call the company if you have any questions. When in doubt, go without.