Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Allergy alert

When my youngest son was about 6 or 7 months old, he started breaking out in a rash over his torso, face, arms and legs.

He itched. He cried. He had diarrhea all the time.

Trying to be a good mommy, I put him in tepid baths with a little ground oatmeal to try to stop the itching. It didn't help. We tried changing his diet - he wasn't eating too many different things yet - Cheerios were his favorite food, and he loved fruits and veggies. Finally, I took him to an allergist.

Lo and behold, he was allergic - very allergic - to oats. And here I'd been bathing him in the stuff.

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphalaxis Network, "Approximately 12 million people in the U.S. have food allergies. That’s one in 25, or 4% of the population. Food allergies are more prevalent among young children – one in 17 under the age of 3 has food allergies."

I eventually had all of my kids tested. Turns out one of my daughters is so allergic to nuts that she was given an epi pen to carry with her. I had no idea.

Parenting a child with food allergies, especially a young one, can be daunting. A trip to the grocery store - which used to take 15 minutes - now takes an hour, since every single label must be read. These days, many foods have ingredients you'd never suspect. For example, I am very allergic to soy. I never would have dreamed I'd find it in lunch meat - until the day I bit into a roast beef sandwich and my throat almost closed up. Sure enough, the meat contained soy. Why it did, I have no idea.

Furthermore, a parent cannot watch over their child's diet when they aren't home. Sometimes it only takes a tiny bite of an allergen to cause a strong reaction. What if someone offers my son a bit of an oatmeal raisin cookie and he says yes?

I came across these bracelets last night, and I am thrilled. What a great idea! Lucinda of Designed By Lucinda on Etsy makes the custom personalized bracelets that kids will be likely to wear because they're cool and pretty.

"My child has asthma, and I know many kids with it," Lucinda writes. "I also know many people with kids who have food allergies. The problem is that the necklaces and bracelets that EMTs are trained to look for tend to be a bit ugly to a first grader or so. These bracelets are a training step for kids for accept the (to them) ugly necklace while sporting a pretty bracelet."

Of course Lucinda doesn't intend for her bracelets to take the place of official asthma alert or other necklaces that EMTs are trained to look for. Instead, they are just "another way to remind people to Watch Your Child and read the labels before offering your child a cupcake."


elycia said...

i imagine it would be hard dealing with childern's allergies! those bracelets are such a cute and good idea! very clever.

Soap Scent-sations said...

This looks like a good way to start teaching your own children about their allergies too. I have one with peanut allergies and we already have him trained to ask if it has peanuts when he doesn't know or to just decline. Allergens are everywhere! and can develop at anytime in your life.

Gourmet Soaps said...

It's brilliant. It opens dialogue between children & parents and families and caretakers. It also teaches children to be aware of the limitations of their own bodies. Great article.

A Nursing Reminder a.k.a. Jess said...

That is so wonderful. I know that having those on my child would definitely ease my mind a bit, and I bet that it would make a teacher's life easier too!