Have you ever taken your child to to the allergist only to be told that he probably won't live, because his allergies are so numerous that they're life-threatening? I have. That was 14 years ago. Today my son is six feet tall and a member of his school's weight-lifting team.
Today, four out of every 100 kids in the United States has a food allergy, and there is no cure.
A recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown that "obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food." The rate for these kids is 59% higher than that of children who are not obese.
* Peanut allergy has doubled in children between 1997 and 2002. * In 2007, 3.9% of children under age 18 had a food or digestive allergy. * Between 1997 and 2007, reported food allergy increased 18% among those under age 18. * Kids with food allergies are two to four times more likely to also have asthma and other related conditions. * Between 2004 and 2006, 9,500 children were sent to the hospital with a food allergy problem. * Each year in the United States, 150 people die of anaphylaxis.
Food allergies are on the rise, and scientists aren't sure why. Commonplace in schools are peanut-free lunch tables and emergency EpiPens® for treating anaphylactic reactions. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC) reports that more schools are obtaining food allergy information from students to be placed in their permanent records. Until more people and institutions are aware of food allergy and know how to prevent a reaction, mothers will worry.
A. Anderson, speaker and advocate for families an professionals who care for children with allergies has written Flourishing With Food Allergies: Social, Emotional and Practical Guidance For Families with Young Children. Ms. Anderson, an award-winning (Yale University) writer, felt forced into her role after her two sons were diagnosed with food allergies. I feel for her. We wish to take away a child's disease, handicap, syndrome, or illness---but cannot. Feeling cornered, parents look for help. Most often, assistance comes in the form of other mothers' advice. Author Anderson has collected the biographical stories of other children from around the globe, as told by their parents. They discuss the origins of the allergies, explain how they were diagnosed, or misdiagnosed and treated. Topics range from problems in social situations with allergy-causing foods to epipens.Flourishing With Food Allergies also outlines current research in the United States, as compared with other developed countries. Currently, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has given $5 million in grants for innovative studies into food allergy.
Anderson's book sets aside the myths of food allergy; for example many believe that most people are allergic to strawberries and tomatoes. In actuality, the top eight allergens are: dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Anderson instead, focuses on the facts.
Whole chapters of Flourishing With Food Allergies are given over to the relativity of autism, ADHD, and asthma. The author points out the detrimental effects of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in our food, citing several important studies. Written perspectives of pediatricians, allergists, a naturopath, and a clinical psychologist are included. Anderson adds research into cross-reactionary substances and the usefulness of probiotics in treating food allergy. "Probiotics primarily help the body maintain a balance of good bacteria, which in turn helps protect us from illness." She cites a study from Finland and published in The Lancet (2001) which has shown that probiotics "may help with eczema, food allergies and asthma." Good food sources are yogurt and kefir.
A complete section is devoted to social situations--school emergencies, teacher awareness, preschool, friends' homes, travel--both domestic and abroad. What's on the horizon? A new type of food allergy treatment is being explored in the European Union, where about 10 million citizens are affected, many allergic to fruit and fish. The FAST project utilizes modified variants of allergic proteins that are hypoallergenic, rather than traditional injections allergen-specific immunotherapy which has the potential side effect of anaphylaxis.
Anderson's book has recently been selected as a resource by the European Union, listed in the USDA's National Agricultural Library, and featured by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. As a mother who has struggled with overwhelming food allergies, asthma, "special" school lunches, and the ignorance of the food allergy issue in the public, I have found Flourishing With Food Allergies to be an exceptional book by A. Anderson, who is both mother and advocate.
Flourishing With Food Allergies (Papoose Publishing/ Jul 2008) by A. Anderson (5 Stars)
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