The Allergic Kid | No More Dead Children


You read my post about Ammaria Johnson, right?  Well, here’s another excellent blog that you need to check out on the subject:

Why?  Because it’s important to hit this message hard, and repeat it until everyone’s sick & tired of hearing it.

A small excerpt:

Failure to give Benadryl, no Epi-pen on hand and the outrageous decision to call a parent instead of 911 when a child’s airway is closing?  I don’t even have words for this school’s heinous behavior.  What part of “life threatening medical condition” did they not understand?  These people shouldn’t be entrusted with the care of a gerbil, let alone a child’s life.

And what kind of self-serving, we’re-not-responsible-for-the-death-of-the-child-in-our-care, preparing-for-a-lawsuit garbage was the school district trying to serve up with its statement that this girl died of a “pre-existing medical condition”?  Here’s the county’s own guidelines for managing food allergies which the school failed to follow.  (Thanks to @IknowTiffany for the link.)

Couldn’t agree more.

Another Food Allergy Tragedy: Ammaria Johnson


There are many posts out there already in the Food Allergy community about a tragedy involving a peanut allergy that happened only yesterday in Richmond Virginia.  I won’t rehash the details, but I would like to provide some links to articles that are worth reading:

I felt the need to post because we obviously need to reach beyond the Food Allergy community.  If you’re reading this, I ask you to reblog, repost, tweet, +1, post your thoughts about the situation, repost one or all of the above articles, tell your friends and neighbors… use social media and good old fashioned word of mouth to spread the word.

This issue is bigger than the bullying, bigger than the politics, bigger than “my kid needs his peanut butter sandwich”.

SCHOOLS NEED TO HAVE EPI-PENS ON SITE, AND NURSES, TEACHERS, STAFF MUST BE PERMITTED TO ADMINISTER THEM.

There is no longer an excuse for anything getting in the way of this.  This is not a single isolated incident kind of thing any longer.

From WTVR:

“She has an allergy action plan at the school,” said Pendleton, which authorizes the school to give her Benadryl during a reaction. “They didn’t do that,” she said.

At the beginning of this school year, the mother said she tried to give the clinical aid an Epipen for emergencies, but she was declined and told to keep it at home.

According to Chesterfield County School policy parents are supposed to provide the school medication for children with allergies.

This is unacceptable.

Write to your senator now.  Write all of your elected officials frequently.  Ask them to endorse a bill like this, or any bill that comes up on the issue.

Administering a dose of epinephrine is not a 100% guaranteed life-saver, but imagine if lifeguards in school pools were asked not to administer CPR for drowning children?  We sure as hell need to do something.

If it’s your thing, please pray for the family, the teachers, students, emergency responders, and medical staff involved.

What are you waiting for?  Read those articles, & re-post now!

EpiPens are portable epinephrine-dispensing de...

Epi-Pen

Possible Parasitic Panacea


Adult Trichuris female human whipworm PHIL 414...

Adult Trichuris female human whipworm

Thanks to one of my many Twitter food allergy friends,  @Onespot_Allergy, this incredible  yet possibly repulsing story recently came to my attention: Food Allergies And The Dirty Side Of The Hygiene Hypothesis

Basically… researchers are trying to see if parasites dropped into your guts will boost your immune system and possibly cure peanut allergies… and in turn, all food allergies.

This linked to another exciting, informative, and insane article from WCVB TV-5 complete with a video: Parasites May Cure Allergies

…Participants would swallow a small vial full of liquid with parasitic eggs once every two weeks for an undetermined period of time.

They said side effects are minimal.

“This is not a parasite that will stay and colonize,” said Castells. “They just stay there for a little bit, they have enough food for a few days, a few weeks, and they go out.”

Jouvin and Castells are particularly interested in finding study subjects with moderately serious peanut allergies. Often deadly, peanut allergies afflict millions and kill as many as 100 Americans each year.

First reaction?  Ew!  Next reaction?  Neat!  …and what the hell is a Whipworm?  Well, Wikipedia is helpful in such situations…

  • Light infestations (<100 worms) are frequently asymptomatic.
  • Heavy infestations may have bloody diarrhea.
  • Long-standing blood loss may lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Rectal prolapse is possible in severe cases.
  • Vitamin A deficiency may also result due to infection.[2]

Mechanical damage to the mucosa may occur as well as toxic or inflammatory damage to the intestines of the host.

At least the first line is reassuring.  This seems a lot like how the plot to Alien started.  If it’s proven, I’ll go for it.  I’d like to make sure that I’m not allergic to Whipworms before I eat any or their eggs, though.

Also… if “cured”, I wouldn’t be going to Red Lobster any time soon, but it sure would make cross-contamination fears a thing of the past.

What do you think about this possible cure for food allergies?  Excited?  Scared?  Grossed out?  Curious?  No emotions until there are solid results?

Subway still sucks, so does IHOP, take your allergy-sniffing dog there with you…


Some good food allergy articles popping up lately, if you’re paying attention:

  • Allergies in the classroom: What’s OK to send in for snack time?  –  Some good tips.  Not sure if I’m 100% on-board with banning stuff in schools & classrooms.  I’d just promote safety a little more.
  • Subway expanding gluten-free test – Subway is still clueless.  They’re pushing the gluten free fad as far as they can with as little effort as possible, all while making a big deal about it & ignoring that other allergens exist.  (Read the comments.)
  • IHOP flops – IHOP owed by the same company that owns Crapplebees, also could not give a crap about your food allergies.  Try the new effortless lemon-zest dairy-free salad today! (Read the comments.)
  • $20,000 allergy-sniffing dog is a real lifesaver – Such a great idea!  Too bad it’s a $20K price tag.  I’d love to have a deathfish-detecting pooch.  I’d also train him to poop right outside of Subway restaurants.
  • Managing your food allergies in dining halls and dorm rooms – It’s back to school time.  Solid advice from a real expert.  I’m all about the buddy system.  Friends that look out for your best interest as far as not dying are friends for life.

So yeah, stuff’s happening.  I’m really just posting this to say… we’re out there.

This won’t REALLY kill you, will it? Let’s see…


http://twitter.com/#!/FoodAllergyWalk/status/106727780493959168

Truth.  Adults too.  Just sayin’.

...but they didn't warn us about the rednecks....

Let′s sprinkle some on you to see what happens…

The link points to this article: 8 News Now | Children with food allergies often face skepticism

Check out some of my favorite quotes…

When Bela Mehta’s toddler son was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy, she carefully explained to her parents and in-laws that ingesting even the tiniest amount of peanut could cause a life-threatening reaction.

Yet when the grandparents came over to babysit, Mehta would come home to find that they’d brought over desserts that contained peanuts, or that they were continuing to make dishes containing peanuts using her blender.

“I said, ‘If it was labeled poison, or cyanide, would you still bring it here?” said Mehta, a mother of two who lives in Chicago. “That’s how dangerous it is to him.”

What planet are these people from?  Seriously.

Nearly 6 million U.S. children — or about one in 12 kids — are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of most common allergens, according to research published in Pediatrics in July.

That’s a lot of kids, which will be a lot of adults in a few years.

Peanuts can cause a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that would indicate airway swelling, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

No big deal, right?  Sounds like it’s worth the risk of just licking a peanut…

Some parents described incidents in which family and friends had deliberately given their child nuts to test if the allergy was real.

Yeah.  Read that again:

Some parents described incidents in which family and friends had deliberately given their child nuts to test if the allergy was real.

Jail time.  That’s all I’m sayin’.  That’s like saying that you shot someone just to see if it would really make a hole in their guts.

There should be no question about that, said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago who studies food allergies.

“Peanut allergies are very life-threatening,” Ruchi said. “Kids with a peanut allergy can have shortness of breath. Their throat closes. Their blood pressure drops and if not treated immediately, it can lead to death.

Go, Dr. Gupta, Go!

Families also reported feeling stigmatized and socially excluded, while children reported teasing. Other kids would say, ‘I’ve got nuts and I’m gonna come touch you’,” according to the study.

I’m going to resist the temptation for a joke about a different kind of nuts.

The article goes on to include the lighter side of things, but I’m ranting.  Go read the full thing if you know what’s good for you.

@FoodAllergyWalk is someone behind FAAN’s Pittsburgh Food Allergy Walk.  Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, or on the FAAN Food Allergy Walk Pittsburgh page.  You can also donate to me or Bethany for our walk on Sept. 18th at Hartwood Acres.

Ridiculous Amount of Food Allergy Crap This Week


This week blew up on Twitter as far as food allergies.  So much went by that I wanted to promote, comment on, blog about, or whatever… but I didn’t get to any of it.  Oh well.  There are others out there… writing, educating, & commenting.  So… if you’re interested & you can keep up, here’s a run-down of stuff that you need to see:

First off, the ridiculousness with food allergy protesters in Edgewater, FL:

And, then, all the rest…

  • NY PIX 11 | FOOD ALLERGY WEEKIt was Food Allergy Awareness Week for WPIX TV 11 in New York. Awesome.  There’s a plethora of incredible content available here: NY PIX 11 | Food Allergy Week – I still haven’t made my way through all of it.  Looks like they’re covering all the angles though… form safety at restaurants and schools, to personal profiles, to cooking, to businesses helping out with allergy needs, to dealing with it mentally, to research, to legislation.  I really applaud the drive & effort… and hope other news stations across the country pick up on this!
  • Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies is out, & I finally got a copy.  Just started reading, and I hope to eventually blog a review.  Bonus: Author Sloane Miller got her own segment in the aforementioned WPIX Food Allergy Week!
  • I read this essay from Keith at the FAAN website, and was quite moved: FAAN Community | First Reaction in 14 Years.  Want to know what anaphylaxis feels like?  It’s worth reading, and shows the importance of vigilance in reading labels, education, carrying an epi pen, and staying calm.  Write to your state governor and the President with FAAN’s help, & ask them to support Food Allergy Awareness Week 2011!
  • Quiznos has a lobster sub?  Ugh.  Disgusting.  I still hate Lent.
  • The Allergy Ninja has arrived to give support to the #FoodAllergyMomArmy, and  I bet (& hope) he’s up to no good.

Am I missing something?  I feel like I’m missing something.

Oh yeah.  I need to update my links.  Have a blog that I should be linking to?  Let me know!

Even a 3-year-old can do it…


This article is just awesome:

http://kingstonthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1136778

It’s about Alex Pople the three year old who used an EpiPen to save his infant brother’s life.  Holy cow, this is good stuff.   I’m amazed that a three year old could successfully use an EpiPen, and did it when it was called for!

The tear-jerker?

He also tells his brother, “I love you and I saved your life because we are best friends.”

Crazy!  This proves that a child is never too young to start learning about food allergies for themselves or for anyone in the family or even any friends.

Food Allergy News, the good kind…


OK, so my last Food Allergy post was a little sad, disheartening, and rant-like.  Hopefully this one will be the Yang to the others Yin.  (Or is that Yin to the others Yang?)

I’d like to share some good news in the form of links, and a little commentary…

http://twitter.com/#!/AllergyEats/status/17239393752322048

http://twitter.com/#!/FoodAllergy/status/17567884217683969

  • FAAN | The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act – Finally, the FAAMA bill has passed, and is expected to be signed into law.  This will hopefully prevent events like the ones surrounding Katelyn’s death from happening in the future by making sure schools are more educated on the subject, and more equipped to deal with similar situations.  Sadly, it’s a voluntary policy and not a mandatory one.

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/17572685122895872

Food Allergy News, the Katelyn Carlson tragedy.


So food allergy news seems to be all over the place the last few weeks.  There are good things happening, and there are bad things happening.  I’ll hit you with the bad news first, then we can move on to the good news with a perspective on why it’s good news & why it’s important.  (Looks like I’m so long-winded, that will need to be its own blog post.)

Sadly, Katelyn Carlson, a 13 year old girl passed away earlier this month due to an anaphylactic reaction to peanut oil or a peanut cross-contaminant in some Chinese food that was served at a school function.  Apparently parents and teachers “checked multiple times” with the restaurant to make sure there were no peanuts in the food, or peanut oil… I’m guessing there were cross-contaminants somewhere along the line.  My thoughts on the subject are summed up perfectly in a Nut-Free Mom blog post on the subject.  While I don’t want to appear as pointing the finger at anyone… this tragedy could have certainly been avoided if the parents, teachers, administrators, and/or restaurant employees were all better educated about food allergies and cross-contamination.  Unfortunately, all involved will certainly be more cautious about such issues in the future.

Mr. Yuk
Mr. Yuk

Being allergic to shellfish, Asian food is at the top of my “No!/Keep Away!/Do Not Touch!” list.  (Okay, maybe 2nd to Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, & Long John Silver’s.) Not only is shellfish a visible ingredient in Asian cuisine… crab can be in “vegetarian” egg rolls as something is lost in translation, and oysters and brine shrimp are commonly used to make a plethora of sauces.  Similarly, peanuts and peanut oil are an essential ingredient to a bunch of Chinese food.  Why would one even attempt to assume it was safe?  Obviously, it’s just not a good idea.  I have ended up becoming pretty good at making a few Chinese dishes at home that I know are safe where I can read all of the bottles.  It may not be as good as the place run by actual Chinese people a few blocks over, but it’s also not going to potentially kill me.

Obviously, this points to a need for better food allergy education across the board…

  • For Restaurants: The chefs, the owners, the waiters and waitresses, the host or hostesses… anyone who can be asked in any situation where there’s food involved needs to be educated about potential food allergy dangers ans especially about cross-contamination.  Also, they should be required to have an epi pen or two in their first aid kit, without question.
  • For manufacturers/processing plants: I call “shenanigans” on the whole labeling process that puts the CYA warnings like “This (whatever) processed in a facility that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, and belly button lint.”  The other day I saw packaged cheese that had the shellfish warning on it.  Where, why, and how would cheese ever need to or potentially come into contact with shellfish while it’s being made or processed?  Does Admiral Ackbar run your processing plant?  Is there lobster flavored cheese every few runs?  I would push for stricter rules for these companies where such allergens do not come into contact with other foods… it requires separation and sterilization.  Also… why not a “Mr. Yuk” type system with images or icons?  Everything else has been dumbed-down to icons over the years.  Why not make it easy with a rating-system for “contains”, “possibly contains”, and “processed in the same facility” with little pictographs of the scary deadly allergens?  Let’s differentiate between “allergy” and “intolerance” while we’re at it.
  • For schools: Food allergies are obviously a real issue.  Obviously there’s a comprehension problem when it comes to safety.  School nurse’s stations and cafeterias also ought to be required to be equipped with an epi pen.  This is one area where federal laws ought to trump state laws (as much as my inner political self is against this) and require them across the board, everywhere.  Teachers and administrators ought to be required to take food allergy classes or even tests just like first aid certification… or in with first aid certification.
  • For parents: Obviously, it’s a fine line between being over-protective and ridiculously worrisome and educating your child on food allergy and cross contamination issues.  They are serious and potentially life threatening.  Medical tags/bracelets and a personal epi pen are probably a good idea.  Your child needs to be equipped with the knowledge of potential allergy triggers, aware of what can happen, and the confidence to say “no, I’m not eating that” to other kids or ignorant adults.  In with being aware of what may happen… staying calm is necessary when an allergic reaction happens.  Knowledge of what happens, how, and how to stop it and get help can greatly increase the chances of remaining calm.
  • For people with food allergies: Obviously you’re (hopefully) on guard all the time.   Stay that way.  Read up on the subject, be informed, teach others.

So, there’s my humble and seemingly grumpy opinion.  My heart goes out to the family, friends, & classmates of Katelyn, I can’t imagine the greif that they’re going through.  I hope they can take some comfort in the fact that many others can use this tragedy to become more aware of and educate others on  food allergies, cross-contamination, and perhaps even funding for research for a cure.