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Holy Peanut Shells, Batman -- 8% of Kids Have a Peanut Allergy!

Posted Sep 14 2008 2:42pm

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Peanut allergy doubled among children between 1997 and 2002. Those who suffer from a food allergy know that allergy-induced can be fatal within minutes, but parents and children often feel unsupported in their efforts to prevent attacks. School nurses feel the pressure too. It usually falls to them to manage life-threatening food allergies at school, but there are no Federal guidelines for them to do so. Nurses (who are sometimes responsible for more than one school) report that they usually develop their own training guidelines themselves.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd knows first hand how dire this situation is. His own daughter has a severe food allergy. Already in the six short years of her life she has had four anaphylactic reactions.

While I am sorry that Senator Dodd’s daughter suffers from food allergies, I am glad allergy sufferers have such a powerful advocate. Last week, in conjunction with National Food Allergy Awareness Week, Dodd introduced his Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act to the Senate. (The House of Representatives passed the act on April 8 of this year.) This legislation would ensure that “schools have access to consistent, uniform food allergy guidelines and resources to actually carry them out.”

I’m very excited about this new legislation. Food allergy, like the CIDP that I have, is an autoimmune disease with no cure. Passing the FAAM Act will raise awareness of food allergies and empower kids, parents, and school nurses to better manage their allergies.

Furthermore, this is an excellent example of how WELLalarm could help everyone (it takes a village!) manage children’s allergies. Nurses, teachers, after-school aides, daycare providers, camp counselors, and others could all be notified of which kids have which allergies, and of their respective doctors, medications, treatments, and hospitals – all at the parents’ discretion, of course.

I’ve even created a special peanut charm just for kids with peanut allergies. Future charms for different allergies are due out in the fall!

My greatest hope is that WELLalarm could prevent exposure to allergens in the first place by keeping everyone aware of each child’s condition. But in the event of an allergy-induced anaphylactic reaction people must know what to do and parents, doctors, and emergency personnel could be contacted immediately through a call or text message. Adult supervisors would know the most urgent course of action, like administering a shot. Lives can be saved.

It's gratifying to be a part of the solution to this difficult situation. And I’m glad Senator Dodd is also joining the effort to raise awareness and help us manage children’s food allergies.

Find out more about food allergies on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s website.

Read the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAM) here.

Read more about peanut allergy at Peanut Allergy.com and Kids Health.org.

The Food Allergy Initiative is a great resource for people with food allergies.

Allergic Child focuses on children's allergies and is a great resource for parents and caretakers.

Food Allergy.org sells cookbooks, including The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide and Allergy Cooking With Ease.

MedlinePlus (a branch of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health ) has several articles on food allergy.

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